Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Torah Temima on danger

Summary: Yaakov was diminished by Hashem's kindness. And how one should avoid dangerous situations. And eating meat and fish, and whether bittul works for sakana. Then, at the end, I weigh in.

Post: Rashi in the beginning of parashat Vayishlach reads:
11. I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth that You have rendered Your servant, for with my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.יא. קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי בְמַקְלִי עָבַרְתִּי אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה וְעַתָּה הָיִיתִי לִשְׁנֵי מַחֲנוֹת:
I have become small: My merits have diminished because of the kindnesses and the truth that You have rendered me. Therefore, I fear lest I have became sullied with sin since [the time that] You promised me, and it will cause me to be delivered into Esau’s hand[s]. — [from Shab. 32a, Ta’anith 20b, Ber. 41]קטנתי מכל החסדים: נתמעטו זכיותי על ידי החסדים והאמת שעשית עמי, לכך אני ירא, שמא משהבטחתני נתלכלכתי בחטא ויגרום לי להמסר ביד עשו:

That gemara in Shabbos, 32b reads:
R. Jannai examined [the bridge] and then crossed over. R. Jannai [acted] upon his views, for he said, A man should never stand in a place of danger and say that a miracle will be wrought for him, lest it is not. And if a miracle is wrought for him, it is deducted from his merits.7  R. Hanin said, Which verse [teaches this]? I am become diminished8  by reason of all the deeds of kindness and all the truth.9  R. Zera would not go out among the palm-trees on a day of the strong south wind.10
Torah Temimah points us to the gemara and then writes:

"To explain קָטֹנְתִּי as 'my merits have been reduced'. And apparently this requires consideration, for behold, this language Yaakov said in a manner of humility, and there is not in this an allusion to the matter of reducing merits. And so is apparent in Midrash Rabba: קָטֹנְתִּי, I am not worthy. And see in Ramban and Maharsha who comment in this matter. And to me it seems, based on that which is stated in Bava Kamma 50a:

 R. Hanina said: If a man says that the Holy One, blessed be He, is lax in the execution of justice, his life shall be outlawed, for it is stated, He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judment.39

And if so, since Yaakov said that he is not worthy of all the goodness, if so, it must be that they were they not done for free, but rather that they reduced his merits.

And know that upon this foundation, that it is prohibited to stand in a dangerous place and rely on a miracle, Chazal forbade many various things which have in there the concern for danger, and many of them are enumerated in Yoreh Deah siman 116. And that which the Taz investigates there if a dangerous substance is nullified in 60X, just as a prohibited substance, it seems to bring proof from Chullin 97a, that there was an incident in which they roasted a goat in its fat, and Rabbi Yochanan said to cut away the meat [and eat it; but here he is reading to discard] until they reached its place [of the fat]. And they [meaning Ravin bar Rav Ada] establish it there in the gemara that this is a case of kilchit in a stewpot [and that Rabbi Yochanan instructed that a non-Jew cook should taste it to see if there was the taste there],

and Rashi explains that a kilchit is a non-kosher species of small fish, in a stewpot of meat. And behold, meat and fish, it is known that this is a dangerous substance, and it is explained that klipah [cutting away] work. And in all places we establish that 60X is better than klipah. [And indeed, in our gemara in Chullin, they explicitly state that the non-Jewish cook should taste it, meaning to ascertain whether taam is there.] Howbeit, in the Yerushalmi it is made clear that a doubt of a danger one needs to be more stringent than a doubt of prohibition.

And we have seen fit to comment here about how the world has seized upon this, to be careful because of a concern of danger, because of the instruction [tzavaah] of Rabbi Yehuda Chassid in the matter of matchmaking, that the name of the groom and the father-in-law, or the name of the bride and her mother-in-law, should not be identical. And many wish to be lenient in this, and they brought out a sevara to say that Rabbi Yehuda Chassid only commanded this to his family; and the like, with other sevarot. See in Shu"t Nodeh Biyhuda Tinyana, chelek Even HaEzer siman 79, and Chasam Sofer chelek Even haEzer at the end of siman 197, and in Chochmas Adam klal 123 din 13, he wrote that this is specifically where the names are threefold, such as that his name is Reuven, his father-in-law's name was Reuven, and he takes a son-in-law whose name is Reuven; and so by a bride and her mother-in-law, and he did not explain a reason in the matter. And further are there more acharonim who wrote other sevarot different from this.

However, to me it seems that this matter is not prohibited because of danger, but rather from the primary law. And this is based on that which we establish that it is forbidden to call his father by his name, and so is it prohibited to call others by their name, where their names are identical, unless you change their name. [And according to the position of the Rambam, in perek 6 from Mamrim, it is prohibited even not before him to call others, whose name is like his, when the name is distinct and irregular, see there.] And according to this, is it not so that it is not possible for a son-in-law and father-in-law, or a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law, whose names are identical, to dwell together? For is it not so that the daughter will not be able to call her husband by his name before her father, whose name is like his? [And according to the Rambam, for a distinct name, even note before him?] And so too a husband to his wife, whose name is like his mother's name. And there is not to rely on changing the name, for not everyone is knowledgeable of the din, and also at times it is not possible with this. And so, is it not possible to stumble in the cancellation of the command of kibud av va'em, with is Biblical, vedo'k. (See here.)

It is also possible to give the reason for refraining from this based on that which is written in Midrash Rabba, parashat Noach, parasha 38: "Rabbi Yossi said: The rishonim [early ones], because they recognized their lineage, they would name based on events that occurred, but we, who do not recognize our lineage, we name based on our ancestor's name." And the explanation of this is that since we are traveling to and from in Exile, it is fitting for us to recall the chain of our ancestor's lineage, based on the fathers calling their sons based on their fathers [of the fathers] who have passed on, and this is as we are accustomed to in our days. And also in the Talmud we find this custom in every place, such as in Gittin 33b: R' Parta the son of R' Elazar ben Parta, the grandson of R' Parta the Great. And the name of Abayei was Nachmani, based on the name of his grandfather, And see Moed Kata 25b and Yoma 38b.

And behold, if the names of the groom and his father-in-law are the same, the groom and his wife are not able to call their son by the name of the father-in-law and the father of his wife, since the name of the groom is the same as his; and so too for daughters, by a bride and her mother-in-law. And behold, this matter would cause refraining the calling of them for the purpose of recalling the chain of our lineage, vedo'k in this."

End quote.

Here are my thoughts:

1) In terms of fish with meat, we start with the gemara in Pesachim 76b (and here):
תני רב כהנא בריה דרב חיננא סבא פת שאפאה עם צלי בתנור אסור לאכלה בכותחא ההיא ביניתא דאיטווא בהדי בישרא אסרה רבא מפרזיקיא למיכליה בכותחא מר בר רב אשי אמר אפי' במילחא נמי אסורה משום דקשיא לריחא ולדבר אחר:
(q) (Rav Kahana brei d'Rav Chinena - Beraisa): If bread was baked in an oven with roasting meat, it may not be eaten with Kutach. 
(r) A case occurred, fish was roasted with meat - Rava of Parzakiya forbade eating it with Kutach; 
(s) Mar bar Rav Ashi forbade eating it even with salt (i.e. alone), for it (a mixture of fish and meat) is prone to cause odor and Tzara'as.
Now, we have to think about this gemara that the Torah Temimah raised, in Chullin 97b:
והאמר רבה בר בר חנה עובדא הוה קמיה דר' יוחנן בכנישתא דמעון בגדי שצלאו בחלבו ואתו ושיילוה לרבי יוחנן ואמר קולף ואוכל עד שמגיע לחלבו ההוא כחוש הוה רב הונא בר יהודה אמר כוליא בחלבה הוה ושריא רבין בר רב אדא אמר כילכית באילפס הוה ואתו שיילוה לרבי יוחנן ואמר להו ליטעמיה קפילא ארמאה
But surely Rabbah b. Bar Hana has related a case which came before R. Johanan at the synagogue of Ma'on of a kid that was roasted with its fat, and on enquiring of R. Johanan he ruled that one may cut away [the meat] and eat it until one reaches the fat! — That was a lean kid.  R. Huna b. Judah suggested that it was the case of a kidney roasted with its fat, and he [R. Johanan] declared it to be permitted. Rabin son of R. Ada said: It was the case of a kilkith that was found in a pot of stew, and on enquiring of R. Johanan he ruled that a gentile cook should taste it.
Now, Torah Temimah may be correct in interpreting the gemara as each modifying the first statement, such that even where Ravin bar Rav Adda said it was the non-kosher kilkith in stew, Rabbi Yochanan still said (in addition to a gentile cook tasting it) that one should cut away the meat. But I think this is actually an argument as to the situation. And if so, he should not be discussing klipah, but rather whether there is taam, and whether that is parallel to batel beshishim.

Further, if it is not roasting a kid, but cooking in (meat) stew, then perhaps one could assert a distinction between roasting and cooking.

Further, yes, Rashi says it was a meat stew, but before one draws great halachic conclusions from this, outside the primary intent of the sugya, we should consider if there is anything in the gemara itself to suggest that it is specifically meat stew.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, note that in Pesachim, it is only Mar bar Rav Ashi, a very late (7th century) Amora of Bavel. who forbade the meat roasted with fish in any event. Rava of Parzakiya permitted it, so long as it was not eaten with a dairy dip! And while it may indeed be so that we pasken like Mar bar Rav Ashi, it is not a safe assumption that every other Amora agreed with this medical diagnosis. Rabin son of R' Ada, and Rabbi Yochanan, could very well not have held that there was any medical concern with meat cooked/roasted with fish.

2) That said, I think that not contributing taam and being nullified in 60 times as much would be something that the Amoraim would endorse, even for matters of sakana. I don't believe that they maintained 60X as a magical construct, or a mere halachic construction. Here is not the place to elaborate, but it all comes down to the continuum model of matter, as opposed to an atomic model. Rather than matter being made up by distinct pieces, some ancient Greeks believed that matter was made up of a continuum, with different attributes. And they explicitly discuss the case of wine diluted in water. Drop a tiny but of wine in a lot of water and it is nullified. It is NOT that there are bits of wine floating in the water, and we don't care about it. Rather, in the mixture, the various attributes of the wine contribute themselves to the water, so that the water gets a bit more of the wine attributes, and the entire mixture is thus moved a bit further along the continuum. But as such, the entire mixture is really now water. The wine has been physically nullified. However -- and the Greeks discuss this -- keep dripping wine into the water and you have chozer vene'or, it reawakens. Well, not really reawakens, but enough of the attributes of wine have affected the entire liquid substance that it now is quasi-wine.

If so, taste might well be a measure of how far along the continuum something is. And if there is no taste, then it has been physically nullified, and doesn't exist. So perhaps yes, it would work for matters of sakana

(One might still distinguish between something which is already sakana and is then nullified / klipa, vs. something that if it infuses sufficiently will create with its mixture something which is a sakana.)

3) In terms of marrying someone with the same name, it is not a matter of seeking a kula. For Nodeh BeYehuda at least, it is a matter of defending Yehuda HaChassid. Because surely if he meant it seriously as halacha, we wouldn't listen. But must we also think negatively about him? Rather, let us be dan lekaf zechut.

That is, halacha is halacha, and that is determined by the gemara. We see from the gemara that Amoraim had the same name as their fathers-in-law. Just because a kabbalist or mystic comes along and invents new rules, against the gemara, does not mean that we need to listen to him. (Thus, Yehuda HaChassid also invents an issur to marry a niece, where the gemara recommends it.)

If so, it is misguided to find reasons to support this invented halacha. We should rather discourage people from heeding Yehuda HaChassid's instructions.

4) In terms of katonti, I don't agree that one must reconcile the midrash and the peshat. The midrash takes the mi of  קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים as "as a result of". The peshat takes it as "less than". And the rest of the interpretation follows from that. Yes, the peshat interpretation is an expression of humility. But I don't think we need to work that humility into the midrash.

And that Hashem is not a vatran, that is, not lax in the execution of justice, conveys to me that one should not say that Hashem will not punish misdeeds. That is not the same as saying that Hashem will not give a matnas chinam. See the midrashim on va'etchanan, about how Moshe was seeking a free gift, rather than relying on his own merits; and that was a mark of his humility.

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