Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cherem of R' Gershom - time limited decree?

Pischei Teshuva (Even Ha-Ezer 1:19): Until the end of the 5th millennium (1240) -  these are the words of the Maharik who cites Rashba that he had heard that Rabbeinu Gershom had not made his decree to be in force after the 5th millennium... Look at Mishkenos Yaakov (#1) who writes that it seems to him that the reason for the rumor  - even though normally a decree is forever until a beis din arises that is greater in wisdom and number  as is well known – is because all rabbinic decrees need to be a protective fence for Torah laws. This is expressed by Ramban (Eschanon) that one should not create any matter or decree except that which is preventative fence for the Torah. The only exception being that a beis din has the power to make temporary decrees for the needs of the time and generation in order to correct temporary aberrations. Those matters which are for the needs of the time are not made permanent decrees. According this understanding, we can suggest that the ones who said there is a time limitation to the Cherem thought that Rabbeinu Gershom did not make this decree as a protective fence for a halacha. That is because there is absolutely no Torah prohibition which would justify this fence for everyone.  Thus those who make this claim feel that the decree must have been made for some transient problem of those times and that is why it was only for a limited time and not permanent and it wasn’t made in connection with a Torah law. However this view is not unanimously held and there are those who disagree with it.  This issue was raised by a few gedolim cited in a teshuva of the Beis Yosef. Besides this there were also a number of gedolim at the beginning of the 6th millennium such as the Ran, Mordechai Maharam Ruttenburg and Raviah who discussed the Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom and yet did not mention this leniency at all of it only being in force until the end of the 5th millennium (1240). ... According to all this evidence we must conclude that Rabbeinu Gershom made this decree as a fence to protect Torah prohibitions because of various reasons and therefore this decree must have also been made forever as we find with all decrees that the Sages made. And Maharam Alshakar (#95) writes, Concerning the decree of Rabbeinu Gershom this that it is claimed to be in force only until the beginning of the 6th millennium – but it is already well known that the majority of the Jews in exile never accepted this decree then or now - for example Spain and the West and the entire East. There are places that did accept it even until today and they conduct themselves in accordance with it. Therefore for all those places which accepted it even until today - it is in force as it was during the 5th millennium.


  1. Shulchan Aruch itself says:

    "Furthermore the Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom was only decreed until the end of the 5th milenia."

  2. I believe the time has come to declare the decree of not having two wives over. Just as the Vilna Gaon wanted: To remove all barriers to polygamy.


    Abandoning the Agunah Debate

    To say that the halakhot surrounding the Agunah issue are complex would a bit of an understatement. They are incredibly complex and demand mastery of a number of oft unlearned simanim in the Tur and Shulhan Arukh. This also leads to difficulties of difference of interpretation. See just because something is written there, does not mean that we all read what is written in the same way. As an example that every Rabbi should be familiar with I give you Sh”A Y”D 69:

    Meat that was left for three days without being salted that became mixed up with other pieces is batel b’rov, it is permitted to cook all of them even if the piece was r’u’ya l’chabed RAMA This is also the law if it was cooked without being salted and then became mixed with other pieces.

    This would seem at first glance to be an open and shut halakha. However don’t tell that to the Shakh and the Taz who have a dispute over what is being written here. According to the Taz(35) the meat is literally batel b’rov. No problem, he reads the line simply as they are stated. The Shakh(57) however, says that batel b’rov is lav davka(not exact) and that he actually means that there must be 60 against the biggest piece of meat. Leaving the final halakha(at least by Ashkenazim) up for debate.

    Bringing this back to the Agunah debate(at least the one that rages on the internet). I have found that this is overpopulated by folks who can’t read Hebrew and who have little to no actual training in halakha. Yet they all have an opinion on what the halakha books say on Agunot. We are told that there is only one B”D in the whole world that has the halakha correct(what utter nonsense) and all must bow before it’s decisions.
    I fully appreciate that Rav Gestetner can quote a great many sources to back his position. In the above example both the Shakh and the Taz quote a great many sources to back their respective positions. Ability to quote sources does not, by weight of sources alone, make one’s opinion correct. If it did, halakha wouldn’t be about logic, it would be about math. Add up those who are for, compare it to the numbers of those against, whichever side had the most would be correct. Yet halakha does not work that way.

    Throughout the countless hours I spent wasted on debating the Agunah issue, one thing became clear, the camp that wanted to ensure that women remained agunot, never wanted to deal with the texts(whether that was because they couldn’t or didn’t like what they found there I don’t know). So discussion simply becomes pointless. What you have is not people who are interested in seeing what the sources have to teach us about an issue, but want to impose their views upon said sources and thus force the sources to agree with them. Yet another reason for the white flag above.

    From Michael Tzadok's web site.

    It would appear that not only is the man wrong but extremely arrogant as well as someone who invents facts. The facts are that any person who goes to arko'oys without a hetter loses all rights in bais din whether tzadok likes it or not. And a moredes is not entitled to a get no matter what way tzadok tries to play it and women such as Dodelson and Epstein are exactly that. No loss tzadok you need to stop being so arrogant and so circumspect with the truth


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