infallibility and chachomim

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    As per the request of Logician,I am opening a new thread,discussing what is now commonly know as “emunas chchomim”.Benignuman has also written on this and therefore it would be apprpriate to open a new thread.

    Logician: I do thank you for your measured tones in this conversation-we may not agree but , at least, the tone is civil,something that, unfortunately, has been sorely lacking in ther recent discussions on the draft and other related issues.

    As the basis of our discussions is the possuk “Lo sossur”(Shoftim), I looked up the rishonim on this tonight. Rashi’s quote is well known and is from the Sifri (I paraphrase):” afilu al jeim shehu smol veal smol shehu jemim”. This has been quoted as proof that we must follow chachomim anytime (blindly?)even as their words seem contradictory to reality.

    It is not apparent from that Rashi what is subject to this klal but in the Ramban ,it is crystal clear that this refers to mitzvos and halachic matters. Do look it up.

    I subsequently checked the Sefer Hachinuch on that. He has a long entry on this but there again, it gets pretty clear as you read the Chinuch, that he is talking about divrei halocho,

    What the possuk asks from us say these rishonim, is to let the chachomim (bais din in the chinuch) interpret the pessukim in the Torah and follow them in their interpretaiton of mitzvos, even as it seems contrary to what we think.

    To me, it is pretty conclusive that “divre reshus” (or milei d’alma, in my language) is not covered by this at all.

    I welcome your rebuttal on that.


    We’ve been down this road before. Here’s where it goes:

    The chareidim ask ROB to define mili d’alma vs. mitzvos.

    ROB defines mitzvos as things in the shulchan aruch, while the chareidim define mitzvos as things that Hashem wants you to act in a certain way.

    The chareidim ask ROB whether taking terumah is mili d’alma, since it is not in the shulchan aruch. (Popa edits wikipedia to say that the mechaber wrote the yad hachazaka, or something like that.)

    ROB agrees that it includes all mitzvos, not only those in the shulchan aruch.

    There, I saved you the first 100 posts.

    ROB: Define for us what determines whether we are supposed to ask for and listen to counsel of “shoftim”. Does it not stand to reason that it would include anything for which Hashem expects us to conform our actions and thoughts in a certain way?

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Also, can we take infallibility out of this? To heed the words of chachomim, you don’t need to consider them infallible, you just need to think that they have a better chance of being correct than you do (which takes seichel and anavah).


    To add to DY’s post:

    To heed the words of the chachomim, you don’t even have to consider them more likely to be correct than you–you just need to realize that Hashem wants you to.

    ????? ????? ???, we’re employees. We just do whatever the baal habos says to do, and whatever the people He tells us to listen to say to do.


    Maybe the boss wants us to form a union so that our negotiations with management have clarity. So that we know he approves when there are layoffs. So that management implements working conditions that abide by the boss’s mission statement. So that employees get the compensation he sets for them. So that the very small percentage of managers who are abusive or unworthy may be identified and replaced.

    Hashem wants a righteous product. If he gets that solely through the dictates of management, excellent. If he can get that product through management which actively engages the employees, explains their plans to them, makes them part of the process, even better productivity and long term stability can be expected.


    Feif Un posted a couple of times about the Rashi about right/left. Here’s what he posted once:

    The Riva says the left/right mentioned in the pasuk refers to Rabbonim telling us not to do a mitzvah such as Shofar on Shabbos, or Arba Minim on Shabbos. It only refers to a mitzvah that they are telling us NOT to do.

    The Yerushalmi says in Horios that the pasuk means only if they say right is right and left is left. If they say otherwise, you do not listen.

    There are many shitos against Rashi. Indeed, both Rambam and Ramban do not pasken like Rashi in this regard. There is a Sifre which Rashi bases it on, but again, many question the Sifre, and there are Gemoros in both bavli and Yerushalmi that say otherwise. R’ Ovadia Yosef reconciles the two views as I mentioned above – you have to confront the Rav if you think he erred. Until you confront him, you do not listen. The Yad HaMelech states that if you listen when you think he erred just because you think you have to listen, you are required to bring a korbon chatas. Only after confronting the Rav with the opposing view, and he stands by what he said, are you required to listen.


    I am copying my post from the other thread.


    You wrote:

    It is my understanding that Emunas Chachomim means trusting that the Chachomim are being honest and doing their best to preserve the mesora and apply the halacha. In other words, to say that the “rabbis” are just trying to control the people, or “where there is a rabbinic will there is a halachic way” is a failure of emunas chachomim. Similarly if someone says that Chazal made up the story of the pach shemen, chalila, in order to give the Chanukah story a religious spin (like some historians claim), that is a failure of Emunas Chachomim.

    I have unfortunately met people who lack Emunas Chachomim and they are always coming up with conspiracy theories as to why the Gedolim are doing X or Y, or why Chazal said X or Y. But learning up a sugya in halacha or hashkafa and happening to conclude differently than the majority of the Gedolim of nowadays is a good thing not a bad thing.


    Popa- I would like to try to explain the ROB/Modern Orthodox position a little differently than you (at least the way I understand it). I think MOs would agree that Mitzvos encomapass everything, that it means Hashem wants you to act in a certain way, and it’s not limited to just the halachos in the S”A. So why don’t they understand Emunas Chachamim as broadly as the Chareidim? Possibly because while Rabbonim do have a closer relatinship with Hashem and do have a deeper understanding of what He wants of us, the Rabbonim are not necessarily expert in every field under the sun. In terms of halachah, it is clear that they have a better understanding of what Hashem wants and we must listen even if we don’t understand. But in other areas like politics, economics, legal issues, medicine, etc… some people who aren’t Rabbonim may have a better insight of what Hashem wants, not because they have better understanding of Hashem but because they have a better understanding of those topics. It’s possible that an MO who doesn’t have such a “Charedi” understanding of Emunas Chachamim would argue that Emunas Chachamim does not mean that Rabbonim are expert in every area, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that Rabboni have a better insight into what Hashem wants of us in areas that they are not expert in.


    How does one know what Hashem wants of us outside of specified mitzvos? How can you call non-mitzvah behavior (not aveiros, but something that’s not brought down by anyone as one of the 613) a “mitzvah” simply because it’s “what Hashem wants” (according to…)? We all try to do the right thing, and of course we make decisions according to a value system that stems from a Torah outlook. But that’s hashkafa, not halacha. You may make those decisions bearing in mind that you will one day face judgment in shamayim. But that doesn’t mean that you have a crystall ball into the “mind” of Hashem, so to speak.


    Simchas613 and DaMoshe, thanks for your input. I think it is pretty clear from all rishonim (thanks DaMoshe) that this possuk only deals with actual mitzvos and not with “divrei reshus” or “milei d’alma”, as I call it.

    Popa and DaasYochid: I said all along that , if you are close to a Godol or Rov, you are welcome to follow his advice. However, it does not obligate anyone else and, more importantly, it does not make someone a “kofer” if you don’t follow his way. But this is what has been the norm in recent years- anyone questioning any saying of a Godol is called a “kofer”. This is what “emunas chachomim” has become.

    A Godol tells you to vote a certain way- if you don’t-you are a kofer!

    A Godol says you should follow a certain way in life-if you question it, you are a kofer!

    The worst part of this phenonemom is that a whole section of the Jewish people has been called every name in the book because they did not heed certain Gedolim in matters of statecraft or governance. Now, that is certainly not what “emunas chacomim” means.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    But that doesn’t mean that you have a crystall ball into the “mind” of Hashem, so to speak.

    That’s precisely where talmidei chachomim come in. By virtue of their knowledge of the Torah, which is Hashem’s wisdom, they have much better insight into His ratzon than we do.


    The requirement to listen to the Chachomim even when they are wrong is only in reference to the Sanhedrin. In the post-Talmud era, where there is no centralized body about which there can be a “nimnu v’gamru” a person who concludes, after learning up the sugya, that the halacha is not like the majority of poskim, is not required to follow the majority, and should not follow the majority. In the present day there cannot be a zaken mamre.

    Now if one’s conclusions are far from the norm, it would be wise and prudent to discuss the sugya and hash things out with another Talmud Chacham but if at the end of the day you still believe you are right you have to follow the halacha as you see it, not as others see it.


    I don’t agree. Talmidei chochomim deserve tremendous respect for their knowledge of Torah, and when they issue psak it should of course be followed. But when the shailah is complex, we should recognize that their psak is coming from their understanding of Torah– which is of course many times greater than our own– not from some ruach hakodesh based understanding of “what Hashem wants”. That is something no one can know. Obviously we need to act in accordance with Torah principles. But I think it is dangerous to teach hashkafa by saying “this is what Hashem wants”. Not only does it anthropomorphize Hashem, which should be avoided whenever possible, it can also lead to people asserting authority over other people under cover of the banner of Torah. Too often I have seen people say on the coffee room “do you really think this is what Hashem wants”? Well, how should I know what Hashem wants? How should YOU know, and how can you presume to tell me? Listen, I believe in emunas chochomim and da’as Torah. But don’t equate that with some vague, nebulous “what Hashem wants”, because even the biggest gadol in the world can’t possibly know what that is.


    DaasYochid: your statement is the crux of our difference. I don’t think that what you wrote binds anyone. I may believe that ONE Godol has that knowledge and therefore I follow him (the foundation of Hasidim) but why should it obligate anyone else? Is that belief binding? Am I a “kofer” if I don’t believe that?

    Without re-hashing old “machlokes” on WW2, what happened when the Gedolim did not anticipate crucial aspects of our lives?



    So then what is the dividing line?

    Is it not “things that Hashem wants us to conform our actions in a certain way?”

    Is it “things that I think I might know better than the rabbis?” Well, that applies to halacha as well. Like suppose I’ve decided I understand electricity better than the rabbis. Or that I understand medicine better than the rabbis, as relevant to halachic aspects of medicine.

    I don’t see what you’re saying.


    Well it is nice to know that this discussion has gotten off to a good respectable start. I hope it remains that way.

    I have a question for you. How do you perceive the story of Purim? After all, Mordechai was not paskening on a specific Halacha. As we know the seudah of Achashverosh was Glatt Kosher (Mehadrin min HaMihadrin). Achashverosh did everything he could to accommodate the Jews to be there. What halacha did they transgress? EVERYBODY held that we needed to go in order to show good will to the King. Why then were they all chiyav misah?! According to you they transgressed nothing by not listening to Mordechai. They weren’t required to listen to him being that it was outside the realm of Halachah. So why a death sentence on their head?

    (incidentally, we see that most of Klal Yisrael messed up in Mitzrayim for not listening to Levi when told not to help out “build up the land”.)


    Rabbi Akiva held that Bar Kocha was the Moshiach and clearly he wasnt. The Jews listened to Rabbi Akiva and the punishment was severe (Total banishment from Aeola Capitola (The Romans kicked the jews out of jerusalem and renamed it Aeola Capitola) they romans lay waste to much of the land.


    Aha-I knew it! ROB, you did not look up the Michtav M’eliyahu I requested. He is writing to someone asking precisely your question.

    And are we communicating at all ? I wrote in the previous thread precisely what DY wrote here. Infallibility has NOTHING to do with this conversation. As I wrote there, we all heard krias haTorah this past week.

    And it is quite clear to many what was going on, and the solution not at all clear. There are very clear statements that certain Gedlom advised against emigration to America DESPITE the obvious dangers in Europe.


    I would assume that the question at the time of the Meraglim fits in the category we’re discussing here.

    Ramban questions why Klal Yisroel were wrong, if the majority of the spies (Gedolim all) were against ? In one answer, he says that the two that were for were clearly greater. [and he factors in Hashem’s original promise]

    Thus we see three rules:

    1. We must listen.

    2. We listen to majority.

    3. A recognized individual who is greater overrules the consensus of the majority of Gedolim.

    (And for both numbers 2 and 3, we must listen to the Charedi Gedolim today hands down. But that’s not the main point here)

    Simcha – if you think they’re understanding something wrong in medicine, by all means let them know. If you don’t like their application – then your point is moot.


    JF: If Hashem expects us to act in a certain way, certainly He gave us to the tools to know how He wants to act. And in fact, He said the way we should find out is by asking the “shoftim”.

    Saying “it’s impossible to know what G-d wants” is a cop out that just lets everyone do what THEY want.


    PBA: Aderaba, we have the Mitzva of v’halachta b’drachav (or WWHD). We see from Hashem’s actions how we should act.


    Trust 789

    Softwords: Mordechai was a member of sanhedrin, and therefore his smicha was real smicha – an unbroken chain from Moshe Rabeinu.

    Today nobody has real smicha. So you can’t compare listening to today’s talmidei chachomim with Mordechai.

    And in fact, many “Grand Rabbis” today who believe themselves to be “Daas Torah”, don’t even have the smicha of today.


    “Saying ‘it’s impossible to know what G-d wants’ is a cop out that just lets everyone do what THEY want.”

    That doesn’t follow. Hashem gave us the Torah, but it is up to us to interpret it, and even the greatest gadol, by virtue of being human, will be unable to unlock every last secret of the Torah. It’s not that we can just throw up our hands and “do whatever we want”– we need to do our hishtadlus– but we should also recognize that we are in galus and we have no nevua, and so we really have no way of knowing how our actions are being received in shamayim. It’s a truly humbling thought.


    The Satmar Rebbe was known to be Anti-Zionist and after the 6 Day War many considered it to be a miracle. He of course did not and said Israel won in spite of Zionism and it wasnt a miracle.

    Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky said in all due respect to the Satmar Rebbe, Hashem didnt need his bracha to do a miracle


    Logician said: There are very clear statements that certain Gedlom advised against emigration to America DESPITE the obvious dangers in Europe.

    I heard the following story from someone who was present. Rav Zelig Epstein ztl, once recounted that certain individuals within Mir were scared of the situation as it was unfolding before WWII and found a way to get papers to go to China. They asked the roshei yeshivos at the Mir what to do and were told not to get the papers to China because everything was going to turn out okay in Europe. The bochrim went out and got the papers anyway. When things got bad they were able to get everyone out. When Rav Zelig was telling this story the listeners asked him how could the Mir Bochrim do such a thing and go against “daas torah.” he responded by saying, “this story happened before daas torah was invented.”


    No, we do know how our actions are received in shomayim. If we follow the rabbonim of our time.


    softwords: you read quite a bit into the megillah that is simply not there. even if the medrash aggada is fact, maybe the jews were being punished for assimilating with the goyim (which is probably why mordechai was against them going in the first place).


    We run into a problem when it gets to a point that what a gadol may say could be viewed as incorrect to most or all of the “non-gedolim,” but perhaps this gadol is on such a level that he is the only one that could see the truth and all the others have erred.

    What would we do in such a situation?


    No, we don’t. How do we know which rabbonim to follow, and how do we know we’re truly following them? How do we know they’re right in the first place? How do we know Hashem isn’t, k’ilu, looking down at us and saying, “Look at all those mitzvos Reuven is doing– look how diligent he is– but why isn’t he focusing on helping Shimon do more mitzvos?” or some such thing (just one example).


    Secular Frummy,

    The answer to that question is that unless there is a final psak din from the Sanhedrin, each person follows there own Rav. Or, if they are capable of learning themselves, they can learn up the sugya and follow their own conclusions.


    No, he (insert gadol here) isnt perfect. Yes, hashem hides things even from a navi (yackov avinu didnt know yosef was alive) for whatever reason.

    However, all doubts go away when you understand the concept of “daas torah”. As long as someone feels they are just as smart, or almost as smart, or have access to the same data/info and can make decisions too, then yes, they start questioning every time a Rav says something. When you recognize that there are those smarter than you, you listen to what they have to say. I believe it is the sfas emes (dont shoot me if I’, wrong) who explains that why was moshe “anav mikul adam” because he had the greatest recognition of HKB’H and had the greatest understanding that everything is because of him, the more one realizes that, the more humble they are. I think much of the questioning stems from peoples arrogance. If I offended anyone I apologize, despite the fact that it is your arrogance that takes affront to what I wrote.



    But there are so many situations that simply do not have psak din from Sanhedrin.


    Because Hashem isn’t out to get us. He isn’t arbitrary and capricious. He isn’t going to give us tasks and then not give us a way of determining what those tasks are.

    How do we know Hashem isn’t, k’ilu, looking down at us and saying, “Look at all those mitzvos Reuven is doing– look how diligent he is– but why isn’t he focusing on helping Shimon do more mitzvos?”

    Yes, I think He is. Which is why you need to have a rav.

    How do we know which rabbonim to follow

    You choose one, in good faith. Hashem isn’t out to get us.


    When Rav Zelig was telling this story the listeners asked him how could the Mir Bochrim do such a thing and go against “daas torah.” he responded by saying, “this story happened before daas torah was invented.”

    LOL. Good for Pre-purim, bad for a Ta’anis.


    And nobody thinks you should follow rabbis on medicine. Just when there’s a halachic or hashkafic aspect to it. And then you cannot say, oh, they don’t understand medicine so I’ll do what I want.


    ROB mentioned WW II and clearly implied that gedolim did not anticipate what was to come, etc.

    For all the Zionist treachery against Jews during and after WW II, etc. Zionists and their apologists would be wise to stay far away from that topic and Zionism’s supremely shameful involvement and lack thereof.

    ROB didn’t want the whole debate started again, so I’ll simply suffice with quoting from the (Zionist) AICE Jewish Virtual Library’s page on Henry Montor (re: WW II):


    “Today nobody has real smicha. So you can’t compare listening to today’s talmidei chachomim with Mordechai.”

    I wonder if the leitzonei shushan said; who does mordechai think he is anyway moshe rabbeinu?


    @GAW – I’m sure others will agree that your first statement to me was pointless. You said nothing. ROB and I may quarrel a lot and not see eye to eye, but at least he tries to bring sources to back his statements. You have stated nothing.

    @ROB – your request is justified. I ask forgiveness, but I’m not feeling well today due to the fast and am only keeping myself up to gain strength to daven Maariv. I will try, B”N to look it up and respond tomorrow.

    @Trust 789 – you wrote, “Today nobody has real smicha. So you can’t compare listening to today’s talmidei chachomim with Mordechai.” You obviously concluded this on your own. Please bring any Halachic source that concludes the way you do.

    In contrast here are words for thought:

    Bava Basra 12/a: The Insights of the Chachamim

    “Rav Avdimi of Cheifa said, ‘From the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed, prophecy was removed from the prophets and given to the Chachamim,’ [meaning,] even though it was removed from the prophets, it was not removed from the Chachamim.”


    “The prophecy of the Chachamim, which is via wisdom, was not removed; rather, they know the Truth through the Holy Spirit that is within them .”


    “There are those [Chachamim] who grasp many things with their intellect that are not within the power of the natural intellect to grasp.”

    The Chasam Sofer:

    In Orach Chaim teshuvah 208, he states that the Nevu’ah (prophecy) that was not removed from the Chachamim refers to that Chelek (portion) of prophecy that the Chacham attains through his Chochma. When he is learner of Torah Lishmah, he has intellectual attainments beyond his natural capacities and Hashem helps him arrive at the truth.

    The Ran: Heeding the Gedolim

    From Derashos HaRan HaShaleim

    published by Mossad HaRav Kook * 2003

    Drush 11

    [ ]

    Drush 12

    Sefer HaChinuch: Heeding the Gedolei HaDor

    In Tradition 27:4 [Summer 1993], Rav Yonason Sacks has an article on rabbinic authority. He quotes the Mishnas Yavaz to the effect that, according to the Ramban, the Sifri and the Yerushalmi support the view of the Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzvos 495 & 496, viz., that following the Gedolei HaDor is a Chiyyuv D’Oraysa, and defying them, an Issur D’Oraysa.



    YW Moderator-127

    This thread has been re-opened.


    4 – Understand that this site is called The Yeshiva World and use appropriate expressions. Do not try to slip in double meanings. Understand what is typed is not always what is read (tone).

    (bolded for emphasis)

    YW Moderator-127

    And having had to delete the next post, this thread is closed.

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