Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Words of Gedolim: Apparent contradictions


Berachos (27b):
It is related that a certain disciple came before R. Joshua and asked him, Is the evening Tefillah compulsory or optional? He replied: It is optional. He then presented himself before Rabban Gamaliel and asked him: Is the evening Tefillah compulsory or optional? He replied: It is compulsory. But, he said, did not R. Joshua tell me that it is optional? He said: Wait till the champions enter the Beth ha-Midrash. When the champions came in, someone rose and inquired, Is the evening Tefillah compulsory or optional? Rabban Gamaliel replied: It is compulsory. Said Rabban Gamaliel to the Sages: Is there anyone who disputes this? R. Joshua replied to him: No. He said to him: Did they not report you to me as saying that it is optional? He then went on: Joshua, stand up and let them testify against you! R. Joshua stood up and said: Were I alive and he [the witness] dead, the living could contradict the dead. But now that he is alive and I am alive, how can the living contradict the living?

13 comments :

  1. Excuse my ignorance, but I am not quite sure what the last verse in this midrash is trying to say:

    "R Joshua stood up and said: Were I alive and he [the witness] dead, the living could contradict the dead. But now that he is alive and I am alive, how can the living contradict the living?"

    Can someone please explain it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is really the key issue. Rashi says
    רש"י {ברכות כז:)

    היאך יכול החי להכחיש את החי - על כרחי אני צריך להודות שאמרתי לו רשות.
    that he was acknowledging that he needed to admit that he in fact had posken the opposite of what he had said to Rabban Gamliel.

    Why didn't he just come out an admit that he had concealed his true position? This is the question raised by a number of commentators.
    In essence they say he did in fact tell the truth both times - but his answer to the student (Rav Shimon bar Yochai) was directed solely to that student and that he felt that the answer for the masses should be in accord with Rabban Gamliel.

    Thus he wasn't lying but was simply trying to keep his answers in the proper context.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't understand how you can be medameh Rebbi Yehoshua to R.R. Feinstein.

    R.R. Feinstein was talking about the Vienna conference for intermarried couples and assered it in a general way. Now again in a general way he is mattir. There is no chiluk here tzevishin for the yochid and for the rabim.

    And the more important question for R.R. Feinstein is how he is with the only people on Earth (together with Tropper) that say R' Moshe's psak allows EJF to do as they please when everyone else disagrees.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Eternal Jewish Fraud WatchOctober 21, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    R' Elya Ber Wachtfogel had protested a while back that he never approved let alone signed for EJF, despite Tropper posting on the website that he had his signature (which along with every other supposed signature of rabbonim was undisplayed).

    In short order, any mention of R' Elya Ber was then quietly removed by red-faced Tropper.

    Today there is a magic trick on the EJF website. I see an old file that was missing for a while, reappear, which claims Tropper has R' Elya Ber's signature.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Eternal Jewish Fraud WatchOctober 21, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    Incidentally, the same file claiming there is a signature from R' Elya Ber which magically disappears and reappears without warning, also claims to have the signature of his rebbe Rav Scheinberg. But on the EJF page for batei din, Tropper lists the gedolei haposkim whose shitos he claims are followed by EJF but there is no mention of his rebbe Rav Scheinberg.

    This same mysterious file claiming to have signatures from 39 rabbonim Tropper lists, also claims at the bottom of the page to have verbal declarations from Rav Elyashev and 5 other gedolim.

    In the case of the 39 rabbonim, it is highly unlikely that at least some of them ever signed - especially not the ones who Tropper never visited to drop off Guma's donations.

    And Rav Elyashev is very careful as to what words he speaks which are not very many. I could just see him sitting there silently, which Tropper then seizes on as "shtikah kehodaah".

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am not surprised or even raise an eyebrow anymore when Gedolim remove previous endorsements. I don't even even find it a question on the people who it was removed from. There are many bullies who almost force the Gedolim into endorsing things they never would have. There are many examples of this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A resolution to R' Yehoshua's words. He held it was a reshus. However, as soon as R' Gamliel and the sages produced a clear majority that obligated one to say Aravis, the law changed. There was no long a minority opinion, since the Sanhedrin got together, counted and produced a conclusion. At the time R' Gamliel asked him again, R' Yehoshua was now bound to the Sanhedrin's ruling despite personal opinion. For him, the halakhah changed in the interim.

    -micha

    ReplyDelete
  8. micha said...

    A resolution to R' Yehoshua's words. He held it was a reshus. However, as soon as R' Gamliel and the sages produced a clear majority that obligated one to say Aravis, the law changed. There was no long a minority opinion, since the Sanhedrin got together, counted and produced a conclusion. At the time R' Gamliel asked him again, R' Yehoshua was now bound to the Sanhedrin's ruling despite personal opinion. For him, the halakhah changed in the interim.
    ===============
    Your explanation is problematic according to the Maharasha's citation of Tosfos.

    מהרש"א חידושי אגדות ברכות כז:

    היאך יכול החי להכחיש וכו'. בפ' כל פסולי המוקדשין (לו.) פירש"י וחוזרני בי וכתבו התוס' שם דהכא א"א לפרש שהרי פסקו הלכה כמותו עכ"ל עוד כתבו שם עמוד על רגליך ויעידו בך ל"ג ליה הכא ע"ש:

    ReplyDelete
  9. The advantage of ignorance is that the Maharsha didn't bother me.

    If you want to salvage my answer (and I'm not insisting it's worth the effort), the possibility does exist that R' Yehoshua was in error when he thought that he lost to the rov. Therefore, the first answer was correct, and the second answer was forthright, but incorrect.

    -micha

    ReplyDelete
  10. R' Elya Ber Wachtfogel had protested a while back that he never approved let alone signed for EJF

    R’ Wachtfogel brought it on himself, by talking in EJF conferences he became a partner and supporter.

    http://theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?s=wachtfogel

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wachtfogel and Tropper were in cahoots in the Slifkin ban.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Recipients and PublicityOctober 23, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Silver lining? (I)

    There may be a huge silver lining in the latest developments of Rav Reuven Feinstein being exposed for saying he opposes EJF's outright proselytization and that he never believed therw was any sort of "heter" permitting it whatsoever, and trying to reconcile it with his bland letter of "haskoma" to EJF in very parev and neutral terms.

    One should pay attention to a few things.

    One, is that Rav Reuven, until now, never gave an outright written haskoma to Tropper or EJF, he may have put his toe in the water when they put out a littlew general devar Torah essay in his name, but never an outright "haskoma" until now.

    Two, is that Tropper must have been salivating for such a "haskoma" from day one that EJF came into public view. Anyone could see how poster Roni/Tropper used to do backwards somersaults and "explain" that Rav Reuven's "haskoma" was that he "attended" EJF events, that that was somehow a "haskama" which he and everyone knows is a perfect shtus, that while showing up somewhere is significant it does not have the power or importance of a written haskoma.

    Thirdly, now Tropper is in big trouble. His former disciple Guma has revealed correspondence that is damaging to Tropper and he is going to take Tropper both to court and to dinei over questions about what happened to the big money Guma gave to Tropper over the years. So Tropper is scared under fire. He knows what happened to his ally in the anti-Slifkin scandal, Leib Pinter who is now sitting in jail for fraud and misues of money. So now Tropper needs Rav Reuven badly.

    Fourthly, Rav Reuven Feinstein also needs Tropper to keep him controlled and not to damage Rav Reuven's reputation as all the bloggers and rabbis who keep on asking and posting more and more questions that the whole world can read and now that there are official legal cases and dinei Torah, Rav Reuven needs to keep Tropper under control for his own sake.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Recipients and PublicityOctober 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Silver lining? (II)

    Fifthly, there was obviously a very strong difference of opinion behind the scenes between Rav Reuven and Rabbi Tropper over how far to go with outright proselytization. The delicate variable here is Tom Kaplan and Guma when he was involved with them. Obviously, Tom Kaplan and his nephew wanted to go all out in proselytization. They are not rabbis and they do not see anything wrong with it. In fact it helps them greatly personally. Rabbi Tropper is won over to their side, he knows on which side of the bread the tens of millions are buttered on to, but Rav Reuven, while partially drawn in and getting benefits still resists and it remains a struggle behind the scenes.

    Sixthly, in the meantime Guma jumps ship big time, Tropper gets into a war with Bomzer over Jamie's conversion, at least that is the nominal issue it probably goes far deeper than just Jamie over whom it is hard to believe Tropper cares so much in any case, and drags Rav Reuven into that too in this regard the role of Rav Eisenstein comes in as he also exerts pressure on Tropper and Rav Reuven not realizing the difference between Israel and the USA that attacks on the RCA do not play well in America, and now legal cases and dinei Torah are popping up like popcorn all around Tropper, Tom Kaplan that will impact Rav Reuven and raise questions he wants to avoid.

    Finally, at this point, now, the present, at this time, IT WOULD APPEAR that Tropper has acceded and caved in to Rav Reuven Feinstein's demands that EJF curb its plans and intentions and any messages to further point blank proselutizaions. Rav Reuven agrees to issue a letter of haskoma when Tropper needs it most, when Guma is hammering him and when the bloggers are closing in with more and more deadly arguments, Tropper agrees to Rav Reuven's rules that from now on EJF will only be a more mainstream kind of "servicing agency" for people who wish to choose a charedi conversion, menaing those willing to go thru with this via EJF.

    Rav Reuven must have issued his late-in-the-day haskoma with VERY STRONG CONDTIONS and PROVISOS and that he expeects to be more in command of EJF than ever before.

    This clips Tropper's wings badly, but he has no choice, he is under siege.

    Time will tell if EJF will now moderate and STOP its outright proselytization goals and if Kaplan will go along with it and still put his money into EJF and if Tropper will be able to live with this kind of situation, of not manipulating Rav Reuven Feinstein but of taking direct and clear-cut orders, a tall order for him.

    This is how it seems now.

    The silver lining is that Rav Reuven Feinstein will definitely impose a NON-proselytization agenad upon EJF, but it remains to be seen if Tropper has the will and interest in running a reformed and lessened organization.

    Sure they will still talk about higher universal standards to rabbonim like preaching to the converted choir, but the other controversial issue of the proselytization that EJF used to do/does/will do will be a hard habit to kick and only time and monitering of advertizing will tell.

    Meaning it must be seen what EJF tries to sell to goyim in relationships with Jews in its forthcoming ads, that is if it is not shut down entirely by the legal challenges and dinei Torah being rained down on Tropper that will drag Rav Reuven Feinstein into court and bais din more times than he will apprecaite it now that he has issued the "kesuva" beyween him and EJF via this haskoma to officially consecrte their union after having lived without a legal Halachic document for so many years.

    By the way, the haskoma is not "retroactive" it can only be seen in light of the current situation.

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.