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Sam2 is correct according to the Rambam, Ramban, Minchas Chinuch, and most other Rishonim. Classifying something as a “mitzvah” is a dangerous business, and the Rambam wrote several shorashim on them. To be mlamed zchus to those who think shanim mikrah is a mitzvah, the Bihag does classify various d’rabbanans as mitzvos (though I am nearly sure he did not include shnaim mikrah) in his hakdama to the Bihag, so at least there is some Rishon (though the Rambam and Ramban in shoresh sheni in Sefer Hamitzvos both attack him for doing so) that thinks dirabbanans can be classified as a mitzvah.
yitaynigwut — The Rambam has very harsh words to say about those who claim the Torah’s mitzvos have no moral value. You’re treading on a minefield.
How could I improve my definition, then?
In Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s zt”l “The Emergence of Ethical Man,” he discusses this issue briefly. He concludes from a Torah perspective, eating meat is an immoral act, but Hashem gave a heter with restrictions (i.e., Kashrus) for various reasons. I don’t remember them off hand, but you can look in the book. It’s fantastic.
Peacemaker: Sorry, but I don’t agree. I am not saying that there is no such thing as a scientific fact; I am merely differentiating between fact and theory. Theories can be proven wrong, facts cannot.
Let’s differentiate between facts and theories and look at your list. 3,4, and 6 were just theories, so they can be disproved. 1 and 2 are not facts; they are just systems of classification. I can make my own system of classification (obviously, no one would accept it) and consider every rock a planet or every mouse an insect. I would then realize that my system was flawed and alter it. I wouldn’t be changing any facts, I would just be reorganizing the way I classify things. Regarding 5, no scientist (or no good scientist, anyway) would claim that we know all the elements. In fact, if you look at a standard periodic table, it would say somewhere, “All Known Elements”. No good scientist ever claimed that new elements would never be discovered.
It’s interesting that major Rishonim (Rashi in specific) value EY so highly that they say mitzvos preformed outside the land do not even qualify as mitzvos!
Peacemaker: That’s my point. I think you might be misunderstanding scientific history. Scientific facts don’t change, but scientific theories do. Which ever “scientific facts of 150 years ago” were not actually facts if they changed; they were theories. For example, Bohr’s model of the atom (not exactly 150 years ago, but close enough) is now rejected. It wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be a fact. If you asked Bohr himself, he would not claim it to be fact. That would be ridiculous. So yes, scientific theories change all the time. That’s how science progresses.
HaLeiVi: Is it possible you misread the gemara? Chazal’s explanation of the suns movement does indeed go both up and down. How? If you imagine a dome and a sun traveling around it, it will need to go down to the first “set” point on the dome, underneath the width of the dome and back around (this is how Rabbenu Tam comes at his 72-minute shitah: there are two sun set-like actions the sun takes in its path).
Peacemaker: With all due respect, I think you may be fudging some scientific history. Science doesn’t get “reinterpreted”; rather theories get proven or disproven. For example, Copernicus’s heliocentric theory came about by his disproving the geocentric theory. Without the geocentric theory, there was a need to explain orbit, thus the heliocentric theory. Later, Tycho Brahe proved this theory, showing it to be fact. The theory chazal had conflicts with scientific fact, not scientific theory. No one will ever come along and say, “Aha! Chazal were actually right! The sun really does go around a firmament!”
While in camp I was learning Mesechet Arachin. A sugya was “Hakol Chayav BiZimun: Lerabos es HaEesha”. From all Halachick fronts woman are chiyav in zimun (the only question would be whether it would be Dirabanan or not). Even if “people” are doing it for the wrong reasons (and one would need a considerable amount of gayvah to claim he knew exactly why “people” were doing it) they still need to do it. Just as if one person wanted to put on Teffilan because it’s healthy (which it is, actually), he would still need to do it, even though he would be putting it on for the wrong reason.
When you said “And anyone who disagrees with this disagrees with our Emunah and our Torah,” you are actually including almost every single Rishon in this category! All Rishonim (except Rabbenui Tam and Ramban) do believe that Chazal were talking about scientific phenomena (in the Gemaras quoted above, specifically Pesachim 94a) and were scientifically inaccurate. It was only hundreds of years after the Rishonim-period that the Maharal commented on this Gemara was talking about metaphysical phenomena. I would like to think that you don’t think that the giant pillars of our Torah “disagree with our Emunah and our Torah”
Peacemaker: All of that is interesting, but I think you’ll find most Rishonim say otherwise. In fact, you’ll find Gemara’s that say otherwise. The Gemara in Niddah (22) tells of chazal asking a doctor a question when they lacked sufficient knowledge. This implies two things:
(1) They trusted the doctor enough to rely on him for a shaila pertaining to Niddah (this is a little shocking)
(2) They didn’t know the scientific fact themselves, nor could they have derived it from the Torah, or they would have.
And by, “hafoch buh vihafoch buh ki kulah buh” the sforno points out that this doesn’t include science (he was a doctor, and went to medical school, or whatever medieval equivalent existed)
My Rahm in a yeshiva I went to gave the following analogy: Davening in a minyan is like flying on a plane, but davening biyachidus is like being a bird. Meaning, on a plane, your going to get to you destination efficiently and effectively, but you don’t feel like your flying because your confined to the plane’s movements. Davening beyachidus may not get you very far, but you feel like you flying and exploring the realms of teffilah and connectiong with Hashem.
So it would then make sense, from all angles of the matter, to say that Chazal can be wrong in science?
Peacemaker: My Rebbe pointed this out. He said, “If one were to say that chazal is scientifically fallible, who’s to say they were not equally fallible regarding our religious dogma?” But this doesn’t really bother me so much for two reasons:
1) You can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. I can say (though, of course I wouldn’t) that Chazal were wrong about Torah, just like they were wrong about science.
2) Just because they were wrong about science, doesn’t mean that we respect them any less. We respect them because of their Torah knowledge, not their scientific knowledge. Our kavod to them is not dependent on them being right in every scenario. If they were wrong, who cares? I know more biology than Rav Elyashiv, but that has no bearing on how much I respect him.
My issue is that many people believe Chazal can’t be wrong in regards to anything. I’m wondering why someone would say this.
Peacemaker: It’s interesting you say that we should rely on the science of chazal, rather than on that of scientists, because this very gemara in pesachim discusses chazal adopting a scientific view from the scientists!
My question is more of understanding chazal’s statements. Can they be wrong when they said something scientific? We know the sun really doesn’t go beneath the earth, so how do we (if we even do) reconcile science of today with the gemara?
Peacemaker: Is it possible you misunderstood the gemara? The Havah Aminah of chazal was that the sun goes behind the rakiyah, however limaskanah they agreed with the chachmei olam, that the sun does, indeed, go underneath the earth.
GAW: I was looking for an answer for this in other places besides the CR (gasp!), and your first approach is what the Maharal says. This sounds like a great answer, but the problem is the Maharal was an achron, and all but two (Rebennui Tam and the Ramban) said that Chazal were indeed wrong in their hava aminah (that’s the part that I want to figure out). The Rabbeinu Avraham ben haRambam says this shows the intellectual honesty of chazal, that they were able to admit they were wrong (i found this really good mussar, because I find this hard to do myself!).
I don’t think many people would argue with that. But I was shocked to see some people say studying science is bitul torah. Another issue that could arise is the contradictions that arise between science and Chazal. chazal thought lice spontaneously generate, eating rotted fish was healthy, and the sun travels under a firmament at night, etc. But i doubt this would be much of a problem, seeing as the rishonim cover it from almost all angles.
Shrek: The Gemara rejects that Havah Aminah on Shavout 30a.
The Gemara (Shavuot 30a) discusses this. It says because the part of the pasuk that says “and when two men will stand” (Devarim 19:17) is referring to witnesses. Men can, woman can’t.
I never said anything about going to college. I actually don’t think people should attend secular colleges.
I think it possible you may be misrepresenting “bitul Torah”. Bitul Torah is not engaging in something that isn’t Torah, bitul Torah is engaging in wasting time. Why, then, is it called “bitul Torah”? Because engaging in other activities are necessary and beneficial and fulfilling, and you are being mevatel torah when you are doing nothing of value, because it is then you should be learning.
ark: Sorry if I gave of the impression I was pushing some sort of agenda… I just follow the Rambam, Ramban, Meiri, Malbim, Megilat Esther, Aruch LaNer , Ramah, Sforno, Rav Hirsch, Rogatotchaver, Chazon Ish, Rav Yosef Dov, Rav Shacter, Rav Willig, Rav Lichtenstein, Rav Twersky, Rav Aharon, and all the other gedolim who believe that science has value, but you and everyone els can of course disagree with them.
Actually, it is a mitzvah meduorasiah to be healthy: v’duvkuh bo. I also believe that just because something is not Torah does not constitute it as “bitul Torah.” Something of value (any one of the seven Chachmos Ha’olam, any mitzvos, or chasadim) is not bitul Torah.
The same reason shaking a lulav isn’t bityl Torah. Some things need to be done. Most people will tell you that learning science is a kiyum of ahavas haborei, which is a mitzva duariessah. I don’t really see how being mekaim a mitzvah could be bitul Torah.
I don’t think anyone (save a few Torah U’Madda fanatics) would say most people need a Phd level understanding of anything (unless it’s for a profession). I think a basic college level understanding of the 7 Chachmos Haolam (as defined by the Rishonim) is plenty.
yitayningwut: I don’t know of anyone personally (except my Roshei Yeshishiva) who are actually learning every second they have. For example, instead of posting on the Yeshiva World you can read about psychology or math or history on wikipedia. Or when talking to a friend, which isn’t a Torah conversation (which happens all the time; no one can properly deny this) it’s better to talk in chochma than in nonsense (see Rambam Hilchot De’ot, perek beis halacha dalet)
Some people said that if you write it down, that is OK. However the gemara that I quoted above does not think so. I don’t think you will find ANY halachick justification for what you are doing. More likely than not, you would also be over an isur midoriasah
To the OP: This is actually discussed in Mesechet Arachain (around daf 20). I believe the Gemara forbids it on account of it being theft. However, it is possible that a gabbai may do this, though I do not recall the gemara perfectly.
It may be bitul Torah if you learned science while you were supposed to be learning gemara. Just as it would be bitul Torah to shake lulav while you’re supposed to be learning gemara.
If you are not engaged in Talmud Torah, studying science is a kiyum of the mitzvah of ahavas haborei. You can come to love hashem by seeing just how amazing his world is. You can see the quantum-complexity of an electron cloud to the biological harmoniousness of the human body. This is a mitzah miduarrisah.
There a two possible reasons why he is a kofer.
He has no desire to believe in God, in which case you (no offense, but you know its probably true) can’t do anything about it.
Or, he rationalized that God doesn’t exist. (Now of course you say, “No! It’s not rational! Believing in God makes more sense!” Yes. Shkoyach. I agree. But people still do this.) But this also stems from a certain element of arrogance and close mindedness as well. If its the latter, call up someone who’s an expert in kiruv
How is giving a bracha a mitzva?
Why shouldn’t everyone study science?
Even if the current Kollel system would only allow people to learn for a few years, it would still be unprecedented. The Kollels that existed in Europe only had a select few learning in them, and they were expected to become a Rav of a town or a Rosh Yeshiva after they graduated Kollel (which is YU’s system), but the idea where everyone went to Kollel never existed.
Write about it.
Read a book. Preferably some happy-go-lucky book that more or less creates its own world (Redwall or anything by Edward Eager). That’s always my go to method.
ItcheSrulik: Do you know where Rav Shneur learns this concept from? I have a very hard time believing this, for the current Kollel system Lakewood uses now did not exist before Rav Aharon Kutler.
Can anyone provide a source to say that one has on obligation of any sort to support someone in learning?
1) R Chaim in pesachim (somewhere within the first few blott of the second perek; sorry I don’t remember were)
6) I won’t be able to give you a makor for that sorry. I was talking to my dad about this who told me the various times to wait for Motzei shabbos (72,92,1/8 of the day 1/6 of the day). I asked him if anyone actually keeps 1/6, and he said maybe some really radical briskers do.
8) As a result of this, some briskers don’t wear tzitzit on shabbat (see the ba’al hamor and ramban commenting on the ba’al hamor who paskens like the tanna kamma in menachos 38a (i think the ba’al hamor is somewere in mesachet shabbat though) and the rashi to eruvin 73b to see why). My dad said the funniest were the people who didn’t wear tzitzit but were somech on the eruv for other things
Derech HaMelech: Someone who doesn’t sit in Kollel all day is certainly not mevatel torah. The Rambam says in numerous places that other mitzvos need to come before Talmud Torah, or els nothing would ever get accomplished, because people would be m’chuyav to learn every second of the day.
MichaelC: Did your Rav explain why you can’t?September 5, 2011 4:01 am at 4:01 am in reply to: Does Anyone Else Find This Short Story Disturbing? #840642
I get funny looks for my kipa sruga all the time. It might not have caused the issue, but it certainly didn’t help. If we plan on bringing mashiach at some point, we may want to consider doing something about this achdus issue…
tro11: I was not quoting a story about the Netziv. The Emek Davar is the perush the Netziv wrote on Chumash.
Brainy: It seems as though your making a logical jump from using the fact that every Jew must fulfill his potential to justify the current kollel system, which by the way was actually invented by Rav Aharon Kotler. The current Kollel system Lakewood has now did not resemble the Kollels in europe at all. If anyone wants, I can provide source material for thisSeptember 4, 2011 8:16 pm at 8:16 pm in reply to: Going around barefooted or without shoes on at home #805933
The Shulchan aruch and mishna brura say it isn’t tzniut, however R Moshe said now its no longer considered untzinuit, so its permissible.
ItcheSrulik: We probably don’t need to give tochacha at all now adays anyway. In Arachin (around daf 17) the gemara says that tochacha doesn’t apply in the times of the amoraim (except one big tzadik), so kal vachomer how much more so in our times. Aside from that, the gemara later says anivus shelo lishma (i.e. humility, which would constitute not giving tochacha at all) is better than tochacha lishma, meaning that faking anivus (which will ultimately lead to anivus; see the first chapter in rambam hilchot de’ot) is better than tochacha.
In fact, if one would be so into taking on chumras for themselves, I’m going to list a few here. On shabbos, due to a safek brachos (see the R Chaim in the second perek of psachim) one should not make a mezonos, for it may require a hamotzei on shabbos. Be makpid on the GRA who says that for kiddush bemakom seuda, one needs to have bread (which means no more kiddushes in shul unless you wash). Do not say the bircas hashacher (shelo asani goy, etc.) until immediately after you do the corresponding action (see Rambam Hilchot Brachot). Do not drink milk or milk products at all. (R Shachter does this, because its possible that most cows used for milking are treifos). Instead of waiting 72/34 minuets for shabbos to be over, wait 1/6 of the day. Don’t be makpid on any aruvin. As a result of not being makpid on aruvin, do not wear tzitus on shabbos (see ba’al hamor and ramban on the ba’al hamor in mesechet shabbos who holds like the tanna kamma on menachos 38a and rashi on mesachet eruvin 73b), assuming you don’t wear techailes. Be makpid on chadash/yashan.
I think that many people mistakenly assume some things about chumras. The most glaring of which is that chumras make one closer to Hashem. I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Chumras do not generate piety, nor do they make one more holy. Rather it is the reverse. A holier person who feels more fearful of heaven will take on a chumra to stay further away from sin. It doesn’t work both ways. In fact, taking on chumras itself is a very shaky situation. One really needs to be sure that he or she is taking it on because of a fear or love of Hashem, not because that’s what is in style. Personally, I am not so afraid of heaven (unfortunately) that I feel I should take on Cholov Yisroel. My fear of heaven wouldn’t drive me to do it, if I would do it, it would be because everyone else was, and it looks “bad” not to, which is the wrong reason.
Brainy, I don’t think every Jew is obligated to become a Talmid Chacham. I don’t think you’ll find any halachic sources to support you, because not everyone is capable of being a talmud chacham. This, among many others, was a point addressed in the shiur. In fact, the Netziv on parshat Eikev and Shlach (i don’t know the passuk in Eikev off hand, but it was the last Emek Davar on Shlach) says the opposite. The Netziv breaks clal yisroel down into four categories. The leaders, who’s cheif obligation is yirat hashaem (not to be a talmud chacham; not even talmud torah for that matter), secondly there are the talmidai chachamim, who’s chief obligation is to be oisek in torah and be makpid on the mitzvos. the third is the ba’al habatim and the fourth is the women and children. The Netziv explains that the pasuk in eykev teaches that Hashem wants different things from different people.
I was very interested about sheim hashem written on a kindle, because the way the kindle presents graphics on the screen is different and more permanent. I never asked the shayla though…
Before you become appalled, perhaps you may want to look into the topic further.
There is a shiur from Rabbi Daniel Rapp on the YU website.
This shiur delves into the negative side of the current system. Feel free to disagree, but I reserve the right to be equally appalled at the system you advocate.
edited for weblink
Chein: I once heard I shiur on this very topic, and the Chofetz Chaim was quoted as having said this. Perhaps I am misquoting him to an extent, and I’m sorry but I don’t have a source. Take it on my word if you want.
I have a few Chumras that I doubt most people keep:
1) You can’t make a mezonos on shabbos
2) You should wait 7 days from rosh chodesh before making kiddush levana
3) You need to have kiddush with bread following (i.e. kiddush bemokom seudah, whereas seudah is defined as pa’as as opposed to mezonos which most people use)
4) Not to fast on any fast day except yom kippur and tisha bi’av (R chaim soloveitchik did it, as he was super machmir on pikuach nefesh
5) to say all the bircas hashacher immideatly after doing the corrosponded action (see rambam hilchot brachot)
6) to wait 1/6th of the day as opposed to 72/34 minuets for shabbos to be over
7) every lunar eclipse you must go out and buy a plum from the market take its seeds and shove it through your neighbors door crack. If he notices then you must spin around three times saying “siman tov umazal tov yehey lonu ul’chol yisroel”. if he does not notice then you rip your clothing and fast for a fortnight. (sefardim do 2 fortnights)
8) (kidding about 7). Not to use any aruvin at all
9) because one doesn’t use eruvin, to be choshesh the ba’al hamor that says techalis is meakev (see menachos daf 38b) and the rashi in eruvin (71a), some don’t wear tzitzus on shabbos (unless they hold of techailes)
Each time needs to be of a different “level”. What that means is the first time go up to him yourself. If he says no, the second time go up to him with two people (which will most likely compel him to say yes). If he still says no, go up to him with more (like 5?).