Thursday, September 8, 2011

R' Yair Hoffman Reviews new 9th volume of the Igros Moshe

It still must be understood that this volume was put together posthumously, and some of the material does, in fact, reflect that (see, for example, the later comment on responsa OC #5).  Some of the material does not include the Lomdus that has characterized his responsa in the past.  Yet the previous volumes also did include a substantial amount of what can be termed “apodictic” responsa that just discussed Rav Feinstein’s opinions without the Lomdus.  Some people have questioned whether some of the material should actually have been included.  Information told to this author by some insiders also revealed that there was material that was not included too.  Nonetheless, it is a very important work that contributes significantly to Rav Feinstein’s halachic oeuvre.

The Orech Chaim section contains 50 responsa.  In the first he recommends that all shuls follow the timing of the Mogain Avrohom for the recitation of Krias Shma. This is interesting as it seems to be in contrast with his earlier position in Volume I #24 to Rabbi Shalom HaLevi Kugelman. How do we understand or resolve this apparent contradiction? One may view it as a realization by Rav Moshe Feinstein that the pendulum has swung too much in the wrong direction after the publication of Volume I of the Igros Moshe (and not necessarily because of that).  Especially, if one views the purported intent of the publication of the Igros Moshe in the first place.  Not everyone is in agreement that Rav Moshe meant his Igros Moshe to play the role of say, the Mishna Brurah in halacha.  Some would have it that the authorial intent of his halachic magnum opus was to be a running dialogue, a discourse with Torah scholars immersed in a sugyah.  If this is the case, then the contradiction is readily resolved utilizing the “pendulum has swung too far” model.  


  1. Regarding Rabbi Hoffman's attempt to explain the apparent contradiction regarding the Magen Avraham. This seems rather far fetched. There is no ambiguity in the earlier teshuvos. Rav Moshe clearly states that the halacha is is in accord with the Gra and Baal HaTanya and the other view is a minority view. To say that he now wants the pendulum to swing to the Magen Avraham because of he wrote a contrary teshuva that no one was aware of until now!? If he really wanted the pendulum to swing the other way he would have publicized this new view - but he didn't and there is no evidence for such a desire.

  2. His explanation of the contradiction regarding the M"A doesn't seem to hold much water, as Rav Moshe never chose to publish the most recent responsa in Vol. 9. So it would appear implausible he intended to swing the pendulum the other way without publishing the teshuva supposedly doing so.

  3. I wonder if there have been any halachic questions and teshuvot on the the issue of Boxing (fighting sport)?
    What happens in Torah Law if in a boxing match , one of the boxers acidentally kills the other (eg he punches too hard, or the victim had a weakness he wasn't aware of)?

    Since this is profesional and consensual, do the same laws apply as in the cases in the Torah, eg when 2 men strive together , and also one who accidentally kills, and has to go to a city of refuge?

  4. One posek once mentioned in a shiur that there is no heter for father and son to box for sport and that a son inflicting a bruise is still mechayev misah.

  5. Dovid and five towns - your comments are out of line. If you have anything to contribute to the discussion other than name calling - please do so - other wise your comments will be deleted

  6. Dovid - the Grossman case was not a left or right wing issue. If anything it is the left wing that is opposed to the death penalty.

    I am objecting that you are simply tossing out labels which do not inform and in the Grossman case - simply inaccurate.

    If you want to object to a specific case - then go ahead and make sure you give the facts. Dismissing someones comments simply because he is "left-wing" or "right-wing" does not add anything useful.

    BTW I agree with Rabbi Hoffman regarding the Grossman case. It is clearly stated position found in the Igros Moshe which I assume means you would dismiss Rav Moshe as a "left-wing" posek.

  7. "Dovid - the Grossman case was not a left or right wing issue. If anything it is the left wing that is opposed to the death penalty."

    That would be true if we were talking about right-wing/left-wing on political issues. I am referring to right-wing/left-wing on religious/Judaism issues. In the latter, my description would be apt.

    BTW, that was just one example I gave out of many.

    Re: Rav Moshe and the Grossman case. That would be a misapplication of what Rav Moshe said, since Rav Moshe was talking about Bnei Noach adjudicating other Bnei Noach. That teshuva doesn't address how a Yehudi should be treated. You can't assume Rav Moshe would want a Yehudi to be treated the same way as a nochri, when the halachas are clearly different.

    Anyways, that is off tangent.

  8. Bob Turner, who the gedolim have said should be the choice of voters in the upcoming Congressional election in NY's 9th District, is pushing for Pollard's release. He said he is in favor based on the background checked out for him by Congressman Michael Grimm who is a former FBI agent.

    The gedolim could not sign this becuase of legal issues but they were behind it.


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