Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daf Yomi: Implicit Values in the Halachic System

Today, we are back on track in terms of Rif Yomi. For this brief period at least, we are caught up with Daf Yomi. From today's Rif:
א"ר יוחנן הקוטע יד עבדו של חבירו רבו נוטל חמשה דברים והלה מתפרנס מן הצדקה דמצווין ישראל לפרנס עבדים הקטועים ולא שלימים
והא ר' יוחנן אכיל קופר ויהיב לעבדיה שתי חמר ויהיב לעבדיה וקרי עליה הלא בבטן עושני עשהו התם מדת רחמנות הכא מדת הדין:
Rabbi Yochanan said: If one cuts off the arm of a Hebrew servant of another, the master takes the five things {=nezek, tzaar, ripui, shevet, boshet} and this other one {=the servant} subsists off charity, for Israel is available {/ready} to support amputee slaves, but not complete ones.
But Rabbi Yochanan would eat a piece of meat and give it to his servant; drink wine and give it to his servant, and call upon him {Iyyov 31:15}
טו הֲלֹא-בַבֶּטֶן, עֹשֵׂנִי עָשָׂהוּ; וַיְכֻנֶנּוּ, בָּרֶחֶם אֶחָד. 15 Did not He that made me in the womb make him? And did not One fashion us in the womb?
There was the attribute of Mercy. Here was the attribute of Law {Din}.
Now, he did cite a pasuk, or at least apply a pasuk {big difference} to his servant. But still, it is a fascinating and perhaps important gemara. Just because the strict halacha is X, that does not mean that one must derive one's value system from that, even though one may argue that this is therefore Hashem's declaration of what it Right and Just. Here, despite ruling honestly that the halacha was X, he personally conducted himself in such a manner as not required at all by halacha, and endorsed a value of equality of all mankind. And Rabbi Yochanan was an early Amora!

This is perhaps applicable to people reading specific anti-feminist values into the halachic system, and then criticizing it on that basis, or endorsing specific worldviews on that basis. Perhaps we may maintain values and moralities which differ from, and are more liberal, than the strict law, and the strict law is as it is for certain other {perhaps unknown or unknowable} reasons.

Just my own musings. And perhaps relevant to those folks studying Akeidas Yitzchak (even though as I have explained, I think the entire question is irrelevant to this).

How would you interpret the above Yerushalmi? Must one, as a frum Jew, adopt and endorse the values in the halachic system?

1 comment:

רפאל said...

Not all truth and ethics is within the range of legal reasoing. There is truth in Halacha, but Halacha does not cover all truth. There are values in Halacha, but Halacha cannot cover all values.


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