Believing A Rejected Opinion

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    The Gemorah in Sanhedrin 99a quotes R. Hillel as saying “There shall be no Mashiach for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Chizkiyah.”

    The Chasam Sofer (Teshuvos, Yoreah Deah 356) writes that while R. Hillel was not an apikorus for saying what he did, the question has already been decided and anyone who says the exact same thing today is an apikorus who denies the Torah.

    Rav Elchanan brings the famous statement of Rav Chaim that

    “nebech an apikorus is still an apikorus”. To this Rav Elchanan asks several kashes. One is from a gemara in Cheilek in which R’ Hillel felt Moshiach came already in the form of Chizkiyahu Hamelech. According to Rav Chaim, why isn’t R’ Hillel an apikorus? To this Rav Meir Stern answered that since R’ Hillel was a bar plugtah with the other Amoraim, he had a right to argue. However, once the halacha was paskened not like R’ Hillel, subsequent generations can’t argue. And he compared this to any machlokes in halacha. We only go basar rov (Yachid V’Rabim halacha K’rabim) if one doesn’t know what the halacha is, but the yachid himself doesn’t have to go basar rov since he is a bar plugtah.

    Rabbi J. David Bleich, With Perfect Faith, p. 4:

    The concept of the Messiah is one example of a fundamental principle of belief concerning which, at one point in Jewish history, there existed a legitimate divergence of opinion, since resolved normatively… the advancement of this opinion by one of the sages of the Talmud carried with it no theological odium. The explanation is quite simple. Before the authoritative formulation of the halachah with regard to this belief, Rav Hillel’s opinion could be entertained. Following the resolution of the conflict in a manner which negates this theory, normative Halakhah demands acceptance of the belief that the redemption will be affected through the agency of a mortal messiah. As is true with regard to other aspects of Jewish law, the Torah is “not in Heaven” (Deut. 30:12) and hence halachic disputes are resolved in accordance with canons of law which are themselves part of the Oral Law.”

    Similarly Ramban, in Kisvei Ramban, vol. I, p. 345., writes to the Gedolim in France argues with them against a belief in corporeal Hashem. He writes that Scriptural and Aggadic references to Hashem’s form should not be taken literally. Yet regardless of any of the Rishonim’s belief in a corporeal G-d, such a belief today would be heretical.

    So we see even in areas that are not halacha l’maaisa (i.e. belief in Moshiach or the form of Hashem is not something we tangibly express but rather simply think) one can be a heretic even if he find a source in the gedolim that once held it. It was okay for them to hold, but certainly not for any of us.

    So when someone justifies there belief in some scientific theory that contradicts our mesorah with some old opinion, they ought to consider the above.


    Sigh, once again you take something out of context and bridge it to an area where it doesn’t belong.

    Believing in Moshiach is one of the Ikrei Emunah.

    Believing that it is the Sun which revolves around the Earth is not.

    Don’t you get tired of this stuff after a while?


    Not that I am trying to disagree with what you said because I don’t, but I wonder how “eilu v’eilu” applies to their machlokes. Also, the machlokes itself seems weird to me because it seems as they are arguing in the metzius. Either moshiach came or he didn’t.

    This gemara is first brought on the amud before (98b). The gemara on the amud before (98a) says that R’ Yehoshua ben Levi even went up to shamayim to ask moshiach when he will come.

    I don’t understand how this works out. Did someone leave R’ Hillel out of the loop about the heichal of Moshaich?


    Nice point!


    The OP has brought some good examples of how Jewish theology and practice has changed over time and how in many areas there is an evolutionary process that results in a consensus over time. This consensus is only achieved because its premise has withstood the test of time. If a certain belief is shown to be inaccurate, then of course the consensus thinking should be allowed to evolve to reflect the new knowledge.


    Similarly it says, if someone is stringent like Bais Shammai for Kriyas Shma, as opposed to following Bais Hillel’s lenient opinion, he is an apikorus since we reject Bais Shammai’s opinion and pasken like Bais Hillel.


    “Yachid V’Rabim halacha K’rabim” “normative Halakhah”…

    Myfriend, please find me a legitimate source which states that there exists such a concept with regard to gedolim who do not have real semicha and whose words are not upheld by a Beis Din of semuchin, or at least were not debated with the parties holding both opinions present. I do not believe you will. So while you may be correct regarding belief in mashiach (Actually I do not believe you are. The Chasam Sofer’s shitah over there is that belief in mashiach is not its own ikkar but rather simply comes from the ikkar of belief in the Torah and the nevi’im, as the Sefer Ha’ikkarim says, who disagrees with the Rambam, and according to him R’ Hillel wouldn’t be a kofer today either because he simply interpreted the navi that the mashiach spoken of had already come; but that’s not what I want to focus on now.) you cannot stretch that idea to a place where there is a machlokes rishonim.

    Pashuteh Yid

    What is even more notable is that the Rambam says that even one who denies the entire Torah Sheb’al Peah is not an apikorus. The shechita of an apikorus is pasul, but the shechita of the Tzedukim and Baytusim who did not believe in Torah Sheb’al Peh is kosher, bdieved, if one supervised it. See Rambam Hilchos Shechita chapter 4.

    In general, a difficulty with the science found in Chazal is that it doesn’t have a mechanism associated with it. For example, there is a gemara in AZ which says that for an ear condition, one should take a kidney, make some kind of an extract and put it into the ear. However, the gemara gives no info on what molecule in the kidney is reacting with which molecule in the ear to effect the cure.

    It is extremely hard to reconcile our current way of thinking with the cures of Chazal, simply because we have no info on how they are supposed to work. I am not saying they do or don’t work, but the info is so sketchy that there is little to go on.

    BTW, Joseph, why do you need so many usernames? Mods, why do you allow it?


    Pashuteh Yid-

    Your citation of the Rambam is very problematic, for there is more than one place where the Rambam says openly that one who denies ???? ???? ?? is in fact an Apikoros. For example:

    1) Hilchos Mamrim 3:1 – ?? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?? … ??? ?? ????


    2) Perek Chelek, Yesod 9 – ??? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ????? ??”? ?? ?????? ????? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ????? ?? ????? ????? ??? ????? ???? ??

    3) The perek you quote from the Rambam comes from is loosely based on what he writes in ????? ??????? on Chullin 13a. However, there he is ???? all ?????? of ??????, no matter what. (I must acknowledge however that this is only according to the new Kafih translation, in the old Ibn Tibbon translation and the one found in the Meiri I have found the opposite. However I was told by my history teacher who is also a rav and a talmid chacham, R’ David Katz, that the only reliable translation is Kafih’s.)

    Therefore I think your quote is much more a ???? than a ????. I am not sure of the answer but I would speculate that the Rambam needs to be understood in context. The only reason a non-Jew’s shechita is no good according to the Rambam is as a ???, for perhaps he will shecht ??? ????? ??? and render the animal ???? ?????. Therefore a Jew who is not ???? for this, even if he is a ????, may shecht and his shechita is kosher. One who believes in Torah Shebiksav but not Torah Sheba’al peh, might very well be an apikoros, but he is not ???? on avodah zarah if he does not deny Torah Shebiksav; thus his shechita is kosher. What the Rambam means is that only Apikorsim who deny both may not shecht, because they are indeed ???? on avodah zarah. But he did not mean to imply that someone who only denies Torah Sheba’al Peh is not an Apikoros.

    Whether or not you agree with this pshat, I think it is clear from many other places, some of which I have cited above, that the general shita of the Rambam is not as you say.

    I will say this though; I recently came across a Maharal in Gur Aryeh on Shabbos 31a who says explicitly that one who denies Torah Sheba’al Peh is not an apikoros, and he concludes that therefore the Karaites are not Apikorsim.


    Pashuteh Yid:

    there is a sefer that discusses the cures mentioned in chazal. I believe we are not allowed to do any of the cures mentioned in the gemarah (except for the ones that are boduk um’nuseh) because if/when they don’t work it will cause a person to have sfeikos. Generally I think we say mishaneh hatevah, though.


    “Don’t you get tired of this stuff after a while? “


    “Sefer Ha’ikkarim says, who disagrees with the Rambam”

    So did R’Albo.

    “It is extremely hard to reconcile our current way of thinking with the cures of Chazal”

    See below. We don’t try to reconcile these.

    “I believe we are not allowed to do any of the cures mentioned in the gemarah”

    This is correct. They had been discarded in terms of refuah l’maaseh by the time of the Gaonim.

    There is actually an evolution of scientific understanding as well. 850 years ago, one could have argued that the universe had always existed, or had a beginning; neither was out of bounds scientifically. (Note Rambam’s extensive treatment of this question.) Even 50 years ago this was still an admissible question. But with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964 (published in 1965), that was no longer the case.

    And this was an incredible example of a scientific hypothesis being tested successfully. Theoretical physicists had proven that if there HAD been a “Big Bang”, there would be background radiation all over the universe — and furthermore, the wavelength of the background radiation would indicate the age of the universe. Others had just begun to search for the background radiation when Penzias and Wilson found it by accident.


    Charlie, just a small point – the Sefer Ha’ikkarim was written by R’ Yosef Albo.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Yitayningwhat, I ws alerted to the significance of this Rambam by the Chazon Ish’s writings in Hilchos Shechita. This was discussed at length in an earlier thread a few months ago on Apikursis. There I brought from the Chazon Ish in a few places, that to be an apikorus means one must live a frei lifestyle and actively rebel. Merely thinking incorrect hashkafos is not enough. Thus, the often quoted saying that a nebech an apikorus is oich an apikorus is not correct according to kimat all the shitos of the Rishonim. Please find the earlier thread.

    Charlie, did you know that Penzias is a frum yid who worked at Bell Labs in NJ?


    “Charlie, just a small point – the Sefer Ha’ikkarim was written by R’ Yosef Albo.”

    Good catch! Thank you!!!

    “Charlie, did you know that Penzias is a frum yid who worked at Bell Labs in NJ? “

    Thanks, I think someone had told me that a long time ago.


    Pashuteh Yid-

    I referred to that thread and you make a very interesting point. Nevertheless, I do not understand how you can possibly take the specific Rambam you quoted in the way you understand it, and ignore the numerous places the Rambam plainly states that one who denies ???? ???”? is indeed an apikoros.


    Charlie, did you know that Penzias is a frum yid who worked at Bell Labs in NJ?

    I once heard a great story about Rav Solovetchick, from R’ Motty Berger of Aish. Isidor Rabi developed a theory in the 30’s that was a harbinger of the Big Bang theory. Arno Penzias was one of the scientists who discovered proof of it in the 60’s. Rabi was born frum but went off, and in his autobiography he tells a story in which he relates why he went off the derech. He writes that when he was 10 years old he was told that if someone looks at the kohanim during duchening, they will go blind. He wanted to test this out to see if it was true, but didn’t want to lose his eyesight in both eyes, so he took a peek through one of them. When nothing happened, he opened his other eye, and when he saw that what he had been taught was indeed untrue, he decided to leave yiddishkeit. That was Rabi’s story. Penzias, on the other hand, I have heard, is a ba’al teshuva. He once stated ( “The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.” Clearly he did not see science as a contradiction to keeping the Torah. They once asked the rav, “why is it that while Penzias became frum, Rabi went off?” Without batting an eyelash he replied, “Because when he was ten years old, he went blind…”


    that was a rebbishe answer. I laughed.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Yitayningwut, yes, I agree that Rambam is astounding, but it is hard to refute, since he is quite clear that there is a difference in halacha between a Tzeduki and an Apikorus. It is even more surprising that such a shechita could be kosher since the 5 halachos of shechita come from Torah Sheb’al Peh to begin with (Shehiyah, Drasah, Chalada, Hagramah v’Ikur).

    As far as your point that the shechita of a nochri is pasul only because of a gezeira that he may have a machshava for avoda zara, that is correct and surprising, as well. Normally a nochri cannot do any mitzva for us. He can’t read megilla, etc. Not because of a fear of avoda zara, but simply because he is not a ben bris, or not btoras. Why does the Rambam say that he is only pasul for shechita because of a gezeira, and not midoraisa, like just about every other mitzva. I wanted to suggest that shechita may not be a chalos, but simply a metzius. If the animal is shechted the proper way, then that is all we care about. Nevertheless, that is also difficult, since we need koach adam, and a waterwheel with a knife is not normally OK (unless the person started the wheel with his koach and it shechted on the first revolution).

    Patur Aval Assur

    Regarding the Rambam and shechita of tzedukim, the Chazon Ish discusses it in Yoreh Deah Siman 2. R’ Hershel Schachter says it over in a shiur at yutorah entitled “Q and A – Tanach, Textual Differences in the Torah, Deciding Halacha, Choosing a Profession” at around.


    After three years, I’m pretty confident that my pshat in the Rambam is correct.


    He’s an idiot. He should have concluded that the kohen in his shul was not really m’zera aharon, or was a chalal.

    If his scientific theory is as logically sound as that…


    not to mention that its mutar today to look…


    We all must believe what we know to be true, whatever it is.

    Patur Aval Assur

    Back to the issue of shechita:

    (I don’t know if your still around yitayningwut, but it’s not like I have a problem with talking to myself.)

    The Gemara in Chullin (5a) tries to bring a proof to Rav Anan that the shechita of a mumar l’avodah zarah is valid. The proof is that Eliyahu ate meat that the ravens brought him from Achav’s kitchens, which were obviously slaughtered by a mumar l’avodah zarah. The Gemara rejects the proof because maybe really the shechitah is invalid but in this case Eliyahu had a special dispensation from H’. Tosafos asks that in the step where the Gemara was bringing the proof, they were assuming that Eliyahu did not have a special dispensation. If that is the case then even if the shechita was valid, it should be assur for Eliyahu to eat it because it is ??? ?????? ?? ????. Tosafos answers: ??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?”? ????? ???? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?”? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ????? ?????

    Now it seems as if yitayningwut’s pshat is that when the Rambam says ??? ??? ???? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??????? ?? ???????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ????? ??? ??????? ?????? ????? ??? ??? ????”? ??????? ???? it means that the shechita is invalid because they are ???? on avodah zarah. If that is true then the Gemara should not have a proof that the shechita of a mumar l’avodah zarah is valid – maybe it’s not valid but in this case H’ told Eliyahu that the shechita was not done l’shem avodah zarah, the same way the Gemara assumes that H’ told him ???? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ?????. Unless there is another answer to Tosafos’s question that the Rambam could use.

    In fact the Maharatz Chayes in discussing this Tosafos concludes that there is a chiluk between the issur of ??? ?????? ?? ???? which is only assur because of a safek in the metzius ???? ????? ??? ?????, and the issur of shechita of a mumar l’avodah zarah which is intrinsically assur like the shechita of a non-Jew. If so the Gemara has a good proof. But if the issur of shechita of a mumar l’avodah zarah is also just a safek in the metzius that he might have slaughtered it l’shem avodah zarah, then the Gemara would have no proof.


    Patur Aval Assur –

    First, let’s establish what the Rambam says. He writes (?”? ????? ??”?):

    ???? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???”? ????? ???? ?”? ?????? ????

    Pashtus he is saying that a non-Jew’s shechita is only forbidden mid’rabbanan where the non-Jew is not an idolater.

    The Kesef Mishneh understands this as a machlokes between the Rambam and Tosafos (the key Tosafos is ????? ?: ?”? ????), as he says:

    ??? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ?”? ???? ??? ?????? ????”? ??? ??? ?”? ????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ???? ???? ?? ????? ???? ?????

    To take the Rambam’s words ???? ???? ???? and turn them into a d’oraisa just does not seem accurate.

    That established, let’s turn to Tosafos’s question. Tosafos asks how—even if we held like R’ Anan—Eliyahu could have eaten the meat, given that Rav holds ??? ?????? ?? ???? is forbidden because it may have come from a non Jew. Tosafos answers that this much the Gemara assumed he relied on the ?????; it was the leap that the ????? permitted the forbidden that the Gemara was at first unwilling to take.

    You’re asking that according to the Rambam, why lemayseh did the Gemara have to answer that the ????? permitted the meat that would have been forbidden, instead of just answering that the ????? revealed to him that it was not shechted ??? ?”?? Here are a some suggestions:

    1) Maybe according to the Rambam the Gemara meant just that. As for Tosafos’s problem, maybe the Rambam would say ??”?, the Gemara could have asked ??????, it just didn’t.

    2) Even if Eliyahu was positive that the meat was not shechted ??? ????? ???, it could have still been assur mid’rabbanan for him to eat meat from an animal shechted by a non-Jew, depending on when this ??? was enacted. Eliyahu could have required the ????? to permit this issur d’rabbanan.

    3) The Rambam could argue that ??? ?????? ?? ???? may not have applied in this case, either because (a) there were no butchers in the vicinity that did not follow hilchos shechita; or (b) the meat was still sealed in the original ?? ???? ????? packaging.

    Patur Aval Assur


    Thank you for responding. Your first option is what I was going to assume if no other answer was forthcoming. A support for such a structural answer can be found in Tosafos in Bava Basra (5b s.v. Ki) ???? ?????? ???? ???? ???????? ??? ???? and R’ Yaakov Emden explains ???? ?????? ???? ???? which would seem to be the case here.

    Your second option would work if we assume that there was such a geder in the times of Eliyahu. (Not that this necessarily proves one way or the other but) The Gemara here does say that the issur of stam yeinam was not yet enacted in Eliyahu’s time.

    In your third option, I see Choice A as a much better possibility than Choice B – pashtus the gemara is talking about ravens simply giving him slabs of meat.

    In conclusion, with four possibilities to choose from, I think we have something to work with. Thanks.

    Patur Aval Assur

    Regarding the Rambam and shechita of tzedukim, the Chazon Ish discusses it in Yoreh Deah Siman 2. R’ Hershel Schachter says it over in a shiur at yutorah entitled “Q and A – Tanach, Textual Differences in the Torah, Deciding Halacha, Choosing a Profession” at around.

    I was just going through that shiur again to quote in the Aruch Hashulchan thread, and I see here that I wrote “at around” without actually giving the time. So now I will rectify that: It’s at approximately 25:28.

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