Monday, December 11, 2006

Rav Goldvicht zt"l on Popular Symposiums for Halachic Issues

Today, Harry put up a post about the issue of fertility problems and keeping Shiv'ah Nekiyim. Sometimes, as it happens, there is a problem of the woman's ovulation being too early for her to conceive if the full time Halachically required to wait before she goes to Mikvah is kept, and the question is if, and when, one can dispense with the Seven Clean Days which are not usually Biblically mandated.

This question is one that is of major import, and should be presented to major Gedolei Poskim. It is discussed by Shu"t Galya Massechta, by Rav Gustman in the Kuntressei Shiurim to Kiddushin, and at great length by Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Minchas Shlomo, et al.

What bothers me to no end is the jaw-dropping presumptuousness in raising this issue, as Harry did, as one in which the commenters are asked to discuss at what point a Chumra or a Din DeRabbanan become burdensome and problematic enough to be overturned under an Eis La'asos LaHashem dispensation or the like.

Newsflash: THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE FOR A BUNCH OF BLOGGERS TO TACKLE! The undermining of Torah authority is so taken for granted on the blogs, that even Shaalos such as these, Chamurah SheBachamuros, are now being discussed out in the open by people who do not even begin to qualify to answer this question.

While I may discuss Halachic import on the blog, it is invariably in the spirit of Talmud Torah only, with Gemaras and Rishonim etc., a gateway into the issue - never as a question which is an override of the Halachic process, certainly not questioning whether a particular Halachah has validity any longer.

Here is a quote from Rav Goldvicht, Rosh Yeshiva at Kerem B'Yavneh, excerpted from a lecture he gave at a symposium regarding "Can Halachah come to terms with reality?" [Hmm, maybe they were discussing Shiva Nekiyim! (Leaving alone for now what he had to say about the substance of the question)]:

"In my opening words, I would like to contest the very dealing with this matter, in a mass forum, before the ears and eyes of people whose interaction with Halachah is not exclusive, constant, and permanent.

A fundamental, and interesting distinction, we find in the words of Rebbi (Moed Katan 16;Succah 49):

"Once it happened that Rebbi decreed that they should not teach students in the marketplace. What was his source? 'The curves of your thighs are like the links of a chain' - Just as the thigh is concealed so too the words of Torah are in private'.

R' Chiyya went out and taught his two nephews in the market... Rebbi heard and was irked... (Rebbi told R' Chiya) why did you do this? He replied, as it states: 'Wisdom will cry out in the streets'. He responded... 'Wisdom will cry out in the streets' - as Rava says... Anyone who delves into Torah in private, his Torah proclaims about him on the outside'. But it says: 'I did not speak at first in private'? That is speaking of the days of the Kallah (Where everyone gathered to hear lectures from the Sages)."

"Market" - the center of the daily routine of life, work, commerce; the world of action. "The days of the Kallah" - the days when the masses gathered to the Beis Medrash, abandoned their businesses and dedicated themselves to hearing words of Torah from the mouths of the Sages of the Kallah.

If we say that Rebbi made a decree, the implication is that there was a great restriction in the Mitzvah of learning and teaching Torah. Rebbi decrees a more closed framework for Torah study. One may not bring the Torah down into the marketplace, to make it a mass, gray, product, a product of the marketplace. Of course, there is no wish to limit the framework of those who learn the Torah. The Torah should, and must, be the heritage of the masses. But to learn Torah, the masses must prepare themselves, to shake off the life of the market and to dedicate themsleves completely to Torah. At least for a few days, they must ascend to the Torah.

It seems that the guidance of Rebbi is important in our days, when Halachah is placed on the 'operating table', and everyone feels himself qualified to dissect it with his own scalpel. Any one who has once smelled the scent of Torah or has read some index books renders his decision: How should we solve this particular Halachic problem, and in his mouth there are words of criticism of the people of Halachah and on the Rabbis, why do they not solve it in the way he thinks is appropriate?

Would it enter into the mind of a novice in medicine to render an opinion in a medical matter after reading some popular articles in some journals? In this area it is clear to everyone, that there is a certain amount of time that one needs to learn for, and there must be practical training.

Why, then, particularly in this holy area, the area of Halachah, where there are so many conditions to acquire it (the 48 ways through which Torah is acquired), through toil in Torah, in learning, and in the lifestyle of the learner - why particularly here anyone who wants to "Take the Name" comes and takes it, without fulfilling the conditions, without reaching the requisite level?"

Just one more, very severe, manifestation of the process of undermining Torah authority on the J-Blogosphere, I guess.

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