[Avodah] academics?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Feb 21 10:23:16 PST 2024

On Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 05:54:36AM +0200, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> From "Talmud Reclaimed" re academic research (eg Shai Secunda):
>> In terms of practical law, therefore, tracing the original meaning of
>> afikoman bears negligible significance, even it could be shown that Sages
>> at the conclusion of the Talmudic era had misunderstood the rulings of
>> their predecessors. Furthermore, while comprehending the words of earlier
>> Sages certainly holds value in terms of the commandment of Torah study,
>> freestanding Rabbinic commandments of this nature are not usually the
>> subject of the sort of analytical debates which are studied for the sake of
>> gleaning Talmudic wisdom?

> Thus it's hashgacha pratit that a misunderstanding was codified, but
> once codified by the Talmud it's normative law even though as a data point
> it may throw off many other interconnected laws (as in tosfot making an
> ukimta to explain it) Also does this apply to post Talmudic psak?

I like this mashal...

The telephone was invented twice: Once by Elisha Gray, who failed to
register a patent right away. His financier convinced him it was a toy he
stumblded across while researching ways to get more telegraph messages
on a single wire. Gray ended up applying for that patent after a two
plus year wait, and he was originally told he got it -- until another
patent office established that the more famous application by Alexander
Graham Bell was registered a mere 2 hours earlier. (At least, that's
the story. Some historians "debunked" that last bit.)

It was Telephone Time. The idea happened due to the science and
engineering being at the right stage -- the pieces were there for people
to combine. And there were social forces in where the US was at that
time to make such remote communication an attractive idea.

But none of what I wrote will help someone figure out how to fix their
phone. (Even back when phones were the analog devices Bell is credited
with inventing.)

What is relevent to a poseiq is the sevara of afiqoman or marrying bas
achoso. And how broadly was it accepted among rabbanim and in practice.
The history is interesting, but a totally different topic. The mechanics
of how a telephone works has nothing to do with why someone was driven
to identify those mechanics.

Emunas Chakhamim would have me back away from assuming there was
a misunderstanding. I met gedolim who overawed me, and the way they
speak of the Chafeitz Chaim... How could I confidently say I figured out
something in which someone "miles beyond", like a member of Chazal, erred?
But even if there were an error, an error in motive says nothing about the
validity of the results. Halakhah isn't history.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 What you get by achieving your goals
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   is not as important as
Author: Widen Your Tent      what you become by achieving your goals.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF            - Henry David Thoreau

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