Thursday, September 08, 2016

divrei rivos b’she’arecha - but not in Yerushalayim

Rashi’s comments on “lo tasur… yamin u’smol” that even if the Chachamim tell you right is left and left is right, you still have to listen. Chasam Sofer explains that Rashi is referring to a case where the Beis Din itself could not resolve the issue and was left with a sfeika d’dina. Let’s take bein ha’shemashos as an example (an admittedly very bad example). Is it day or is it night? Since Beis Din cannot resolve the issue, a person has to be machmir both ways. If you want to daven mincha, then Beis Din will tell you that it’s too late – we treat it as night. If you want to read kri’as shema, then Beis Din will tell you it’s too early – we treat it as day. If you say right, they say left; if you say left, they say right. What if the person comes to Beis Din says that he is absolutely certain that it is day (or that it is night)? He claims he has a mesorah or a proof that clinches the case. If not for Rashi, you might have thought that his claim of vaday outweighs the safeik of Beis Din. Kah mashma lan, this is not the case.

The simple reading of the pesukim is that Beis Din will be able to resolve any question brought to their attention. The Torah describes there being “divrei rivos b’she’arecha,” disagreements outside of Beis Din in Yerushalayim, but when “v’kamta v’alisa el hamakom asher yivchar Hashem,” when you come to the Beis Din in Yerushalayim, the issue gets settled. R’ Shaul Yisraeli asked a very simple question: Why should this be the case? Maybe Beis Din will be divided and the same disputes and disagreements that raged outside will cause an internal split among its members as well?

Anyone who has learned Yerushalmi will appreciate why this would never happen. Almost every page of the Bavli is filled with shakla v’terya, back and forth, as each side struggles to not only marshal proof for its own view, but also to prove its opponent wrong. Chazal themselves tell us “B’machshakim hoshivani” – this is the Talmud Bavli. There is turmoil, disagreement, a darkness in the intellectual battles fought on its pages. The Yerushalmi is far more mellow, for lack of a better word. In the Bavli you sometimes have sugyos where the gemara does not even finish quoting a braysa before there is an interruption and some challenge raised. In the Yerushalmi, an Amora can ask a question on an opposing view and the gemara does not even record an answer – it’s like both sides are happy to have expressed their opinions and leave it at that. "Noam" - eilu talmidei chachamim she'b'Eretz Yisrael (Sanhedrin 24). This is the segulah of toras Eretz Yisrael -- "hamakom goreim." There may be “divrei rivos b’she’arecha,” but that will not spill over to Beis Din, to the dialogue and interaction among and between the Chachamim in Beis Din HaGadol, in Yerushalayim. Somehow, issues will get resolved and harmony will reign.

After telling us (17:8) “V’kamta v’alisa el hamakom **asher yivchar Hashem Elokecha bo,**” the Torah echoes the same phrase again at the conclusion of the story, commanding us to follow the psak issued "min ha'makon ha'hu **asher yivchar Hashem.**" (17:10)  Why the repetition and reiteration of this phrase "asher yivchar Hashem?"  Netziv explains that if Beis Din must be followed simply because they are the greatest scholars, the most brilliant lamdanim, an individual might argue that in fact he is a greater scholar or that he is the more brilliant lamdan.  The Torah therefore tells us that's not the reason to follow Beis Din.  The reason why their view trumps all others is because they are privileged to be sitting in the place "asher yivchar Hashem."  There is special siyata d'shemaya that comes from the place where there is hashra'as haShechina.  It's not about who you are, but it's about where you are -- in Yerushalayim, near the Mikdash, in a place above all others. 

(It seems that v'nahapoch hu, that in our times it is davka in Eretz Yisrael that there seems to be the greatest friction between factions within Klal Yisrael, be it dati and chiloni, or datli leumi and chareidi, or between any of the many other flavors in the ice cream shop.   Someone who had lived in Eretz Yisrael once remarked at how beautiful it is here in the US, where by and large there is less friction between the various groups within a single community.  My feeling is that there is less friction perhaps because we are so pareve about everything -- we lack the same fervor and passion as our brothers in Eretz Yisrael.  Be that as it may, while we still have a long way to go, I think we see davka in Eretz Yisrael, at times of need, the greatest achdus.  Remember when those three teens were kidnapped?  Even Yair Lapid davened!  Every Jewish heart was united in prayer.  I don't recall something like that ever taking place in chutz la'aretz.  Underneath all the squabbling and fighting there is a unity that I don't think has a parallel in any other Jewish community or in any other nation.  We just need to work on bringing it out when there is no tragedy or crisis.)


  1. And Shammai and Hillel, who were definitely in the lishkas hagazis?

    1. Not to be confused with Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai!

    2. R' Shaul Yisraeli uses them as an example of harmony despite disagreements, like the gem at the end of the first perek in Yevamos.

  2. Compare.

    Sifrei: אפילו מראים בעיניך על שמאל שהוא ימין, ועל ימין שהוא שמאל - שמע להם

    Rashi: אפילו אומר לך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין וכל שכן כשאומר לך על ימין ימין ועל שמאל שמאל.

    Yerushalmi Horios 1:1 (vilna ed. 2b): יכול אם יאמרו לך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין, תשמע להם?! תלמוד לומר: 'ללכת ימין ושמאל', שיאמרו לך על ימין שהוא ימין ועל שמאל שהוא שמאל

    The Yerushalmi needn't be arguing with the Sifrei, but Rashi definitely understood the Sifrei in a way that disagrees with the Yerushalmi.

    The words Rashi doesn't quote from the Sifrei, "מראים בעיניך", allow for Mesechtes Horios. When a mistake is in zil q'ri bei rav, actual על ימין שהוא שמאל, we do not follow the poseiq. When it's a matter that requires hora'ah, and מראים בעיניך על שמאל שהוא ימין, we are mechayavim to follow. Now we get to the meat of the issue -- how are you supposed to know which is which?

  3. Very good vort. It's true, People in US don't have a passion for an ideology or hashkafa, their neutral. It is a maala, more "Shalom" politically correct. But it's a major con, you don't really believe in what your living or doing.
    (I find it a bit in shteibls, the ashkenazim don't really mind when someone says vyatzmach or nakdishach. But forget it in a sfardi or eidut minyan you'll get yelled off! There's a certain passion for your minhag.)