Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shu"t Maharik 88 -- On The Definition of Chukat Akum, pt i


Officers of thousands and officers of hundreds, officers of the hosts of Israel, Rabbi {Yehuda} Messer Leon and my dear friend the sage Rabbi Shmuel, much peace.

{Note: Rabbi Messer Leon was the son of a doctor, and studied medicine, and was licensed to practice medicine. Since this kapa is what doctors wear, it makes sense that he would be discussing whether one could wear this garment. Based on a later reference in this teshuva, I would guess that Rabbi Shmuel is Rabbi Shmuel de Modena, that is Maharshdam.}

I have seen your words, and upon them I reply briefly, for two reaons. First, for you have already written sufficient for performing the labor, and more. Second, because of bittul of the study hall, as we are now learning a difficult sugya in the company of colleagues who seek and volunteer their travelings to learn and teach Torah, if, forfend, my presence among them is missing, I bring upon myself guilt.

And yet I run to relate to you my opinion, even if {Yeshayahu 28:1o} it is a little here and a little there, about the kapa {cape} about which you have written -- and it is long, reaching until the ground, going both in front and in back, and is lacking on the sides, and yet they have made a fitting fix such that it is exempt from tzitzit. And yet a few men have murmured according to their words, saying that there is in this a violation of {Vayikra 18:3}:
ג כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ; וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ-כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה, לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ, וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם, לֹא תֵלֵכוּ. 3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes.
In my humble opinion, it appears that it is an obvious thing that one should not prohibit something as being a chok except in one of two ways. The first one is the thing whose matter is not revealed, as is implied from the language of chok.

And as Rashi comments in his commentary on Chumash in parshat Kedoshim, and these are his words:
You shall observe My statutes They are the following: “You shall not crossbreed your livestock with different species, etc.” [The term] חֻקִּים, “statutes,” refers to the decrees of the Divine King, which have no rationale.
{Or, the Hebrew original:
שרי אלפי' ושרי מאות שרי צבאות ישראל הר"ר מסי"ר ליאון וידיד נפשי הח"ר שמואל שלום רב. ראה ראיתי את דבריכם ועליהם אשיב לקצרה לשני טעמים. ראשונה כי כבר כתבתם די המלאכה לעשות אותה והותר. שני' מפני בטול בית המדרש כאשר אנו לומדי' עתה סוגיא חמורה בחבורת חברי' המקשיבי' המתנדבי' לכתת רגליה' ללמוד וללמד תור' אם ח"ו יפקד מושבי מביניה' והבאתי עלי אשם. ואולם למצותיכם ארוצה לחוות דעי ואם כי זער שם זער שם ע"ד הקפ"א אשר כתבת' והיא ארוכה עד לארץ הולכת פנים ואחור ופתוח' מן הצדדין ואמנם מתוקנת תקון הגון להיות פטור' מציצית ועמעמו עליה קצת אנשי' לפי דבריכם באמר' היות בזה משום ובחקותיה' לא תלכו. לע"ד נראה דדבר (א) פשוט דלא לאסור משום חק אלא בא' משני חלקים האחד הוא הדבר אשר אין טעמו נגלה כדמשמע לשון חק. וכד פי' /וכדפי'/ רש"י בפי' חומש בפרש' קדושי' וז"ל חקים אלו גזרו' המלך שאין להם טעם לדבר עכ"ל

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