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Sunday, 30 June 2019

232) THEOLOGICAL POLITICS SURROUNDING THE EMERGENCE OF THE SHULCHAN ARUCH:

A 1754 edition of Shulchan Aruch, published during R. Yosef Karo's lifetime.
INTRODUCTION:

In this article, we will explore some of the reasons that are given for the necessity to override and replace the 12th century Maimonidean Halachic Code of Law - the Mishneh Torah – with R. Yosef Karo’s 16th century Shulchan Aruch.

THE MAIMONIDEAN CODE WAS ORIGINALLY ‘ACCEPTED BY ALL OF ISREAL’:

The world authority on accurate Maimonidean texts [see previous article] R. Yosef Kapach (1917-2000) wrote:

“It is clear that the method of Maimonides [in his Mishneh Torah] is a standard for the whole world to use...” [1]

Not surprisingly, according to an avowed ‘student of the Rambam’ like R. Kapach, the Mishneh Torah should still remain the essential Code of Jewish Law and should never have been superseded by any other Code. So to further support his thesis, R. Kapach shows how historically there was an agreement in Toledo that no one should rule in any matter against Rambam. The same applied in Castile and in Tunis.

And R. Avraham Zacuto wrote:  
“When the Mishneh Torah was published and distributed in all of the Diaspora, all Israel agreed to follow it and to act according to it in all laws of the Torah.”[2]
This last point is an interesting one because the argument usually goes that the reason why we accepted the Babylonian Talmud over the Jerusalem Talmud is that ‘all Israel agree to follow it’.

And the reason why we follow R. Yosef Karo’s Shulchan Aruch over the Mishneh Torah of Rambam is also that ‘all Israel agree to follow it’.

And yet we see, historically, that after Rambam wrote his Mishneh Torah, ‘all Israel agreed to follow it’ – and, notwithstanding, for some reason it was later superseded by the Shulchan Aruch.

MISHNEH TORAH - TUR – SHULCHAN ARUCH:

Between Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (1180) and R. Karo’s Shulchan Aruch (1563) there was yet another Code of Law known as Arba’ah Turim (around the1300s) which was authored by R. Yaakov ben Asher[3]. R. Karo wrote a commentary on the Arba’ah Turim, known as the Beit Yosef, which became the precursor to his later work, the Shulchan Aruch.

JUSTIFICATION FOR THE TUR:

This is how the Tur justified the need for his new Code, just a century after Rambam’s Mishneh Torah: 

“As a result of our long exile, our strength is weakened...our thinking has become flawed, dissension (as to the clarity of the Halacha) has increased (bringing with it) opposing viewpoints - to the extent that one cannot find a single practical Halacha that does not involve some controversy.[4]

According to the Tur, just one hundred years after Rambam had laid out his Halachic Code in the Mishneh Torah - which was written in clear and simple Hebrew -  the Halachic world was apparently in such turmoil that it necessitated a new Code.

JUSTIFICATION FOR BEIT YOSEF (WHICH LED TO THE SHULCHAN ARUCH):

This is how R. Yosef Karo justifies the need for a new Code, 300 years after Rambam:

“As a result of our long exile where we have been dispersed from place to place, endured different hardships in close succession...(as the Prophet Isaiah warned us) our Sages have lost their wisdom. The strength of Torah and the number of its students have diminished. There are no longer just two opposing schools (like Hillel and Shammai) but an immeasurable number of (Halachic) schools.

This was brought about because of the number of different Halachic works. Although the authors of these many works sought to enlighten us, they instead added to the confusion...

Many of these authors would quote a Law as if it were universal and undisputed, whereas the reality is the exact opposite.”[5]

R. Karo essentially mirrors and expands on the same sentiments as expressed by the Tur above.

R. KARO’S CRITICISM OF RAMBAM’S MISHNEH TORAH:

But R. Karo also offers a criticism of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, essentially disapproving of Rambam’s lack of providing any Talmudic sources for his rulings, and insists that the Halachic process is far more complicated that Rambam had made out:

“If one wanted to trace the Rambam’s sources for his Laws back to the Talmud, it would be extremely difficult. Although G-d has blessed us with a (remedy for Rambam’s lack of Talmudic source material) in the commentary of the Rav haMaggid[6] who did trace the Talmudic origins of Rambam’s laws – nevertheless there are many limitations because unless one is a great scholar those sources will be difficult to comprehend.

Furthermore, it is not enough just to know the Talmudic source, but one also must consult Rashi, Tosafot, the Mordechai, Rambam, including the responsa literature to see whether a particular ruling was universally accepted.”

WHY R. KARO CHOSE TUR OVER RAMBAM:

Then R. Karo goes on to explain why he decided to attach his Beit Yosef commentary (the precursor to his Shulchan Aruch) to the Tur and not to the Mishneh Torah of Rambam:

“Because of all this, I Yosef ben haRav Efraim...have taken the drastic action to remove all the pitfalls, and have decided to author a work that will incorporate all the Laws that are practised today – together with their sources as found in the Talmud and the views of the Halachic decisors, without exception.

To avoid repetition, I decided to append this work to a previous Halachic work...Originally I thought to append it to Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, but I because he only brings his own opinion, I rather decided to append it to the Arba’ah Turim because he included most of the other opinions.

I have determined that because of the three pillars of Halachic thought upon which all the House of Israel rests, namely Rif, Rambam and Rosh (the father of the Tur), it would be prudent to rule according to the majority (i.e. two out of three).”

THE HISTORICAL RECORD?

Clearly, R. Karo did not consider Rambam to have been the final word on Halacha. He respected Rambam, but considered him only as a part or a component in a far more elaborate scheme of Halachic endeavour.

This appears to be in sharp contradistinction to the apparent historical record as noted by R. Avraham Zacuto (mentioned above) and others, who paint a picture of the Mishneh Torah being widely accepted as the authoritative text across the Jewish world in the generations immediately following Rambam.

MAHARSHAL’S RADICAL STANCE AGAINST THE SHULCHAN ARUCH:

R. Shlomo Luria (1510-1573) - known as Maharshal - was a major Ashkenazi Halachic decisor who wrote rather scathingly against R. Karo and his new Shulchan Aruch:

Rabbeinu Yosef Caro, took upon himself to render final Halachic decisions on his own accord...This flies in the face of our traditions which we have upheld until this day.

Those reading his work, are totally unaware that oftentimes his decisions run counter to the accepted rulings of Tosafot and the Halachic decisors, whose ruling we follow...

Unfortunately, this places us in a predicament because the fact is that what people read in a book is always taken seriously[7] (and considered to be authoritative and accurate). To the extent that even were one to ‘shriek like a crane’ and show with compelling proofs that something is inaccurate - no one will pay any attention...

It is bad enough that he used the majority principal of choosing two out of three with regard to Rif, Rosh and Rambam, disregarding everyone else – as if he alone received the Tradition directly from the Elders; but he never delved deeply enough into the mechanics of the Halacha...

Additionally, he did not work from accurate texts and source material and hence he often copied and perpetuated mistakes and errors.”[8]

Besides the very vocal objection of some rabbis like Maharshal, there were some other fundamental issues as well:

DO WE  DERIVE HALACHA FROM THE ZOHAR?

It is a well-established principle in Halacha that we do not follow the Zohar or any form of mysticism when it comes to defining and determining the practical Law.

Yet we also know that R. Karo was a fervent Kabbalist who was, apparently, taught by an angelic being known as a ‘Maggid’. This Magid informed him that Rambam had endorsed his new Shulchan Aruch. And we know that many Kabbalistic practices were indeed incorporated within his Shulchan Aruch:

In the words of the Magid Meisharim [258] itself, there is no doubt that R. Karo merged Kabbalah with Halacha:

Because you have combined (the Law and Kabbalah) together, all the celestial beings have your interests at heart...”

R. KARO ACKNOWLEDGES THE ZOHAR AS A HALACHIC REFERENCE:


In his Introduction to Beit Yosef, R. Karo writes:

“Anyone who has this book before him will have the words of the Talmud, Rashi, Tosafot, Ran, Rif Rosh [and he enumerates about another 30 other sources]...all clearly arranged and well explained in front of him. Also, in some places, we quote from the Zohar.”

THE CHIDA POSITIONS R. KARO WITH THE MYSTICS OF SAFED:

The 18th-century Halachist and Kabbalist, R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai, known as the Chida writes:

“The Maggid (angelic being) told him to call his work Beit David or Shulchan Aruch...

Know that I received a tradition from a great man both in wisdom and fear of Heaven, who received it from a great rabbi who in turn received it from the elders, that during the generation of R. Yosef Karo – a generation with holy people such as R. Moshe Cordovero and the Arizal – there was a special assistance from Heaven because the Jews need a Halachic work which would collate the Laws and their sources and establish the final Halachic conclusion.

There were three candidates for this task during that generation...and one of them was R. Yosef Karo, and because of his humility, he was chosen (to author the Shulchan Aruch).”[9]

The Chida appears to lend a mystical air to the story of the composition of the Shulchan Aruch, thus seemingly elevating it above its practical function as a Code of Law. He continues along this vein:

“Know that I received a tradition from pious elders who in turn received it from the great Master and Holy Man, R. Chaim Abulafia, that...about 200 rabbis in his generation acquiesced to R. Karo’s position [of writing a new Code of Law]. And Abulafia used to say obeying R. Karo was like obeying the 200 rabbis...

I also heard that when the Beit Yosef first came out, R. Yosef ben Levi [Maharival] opposed it and forbade his students to study from it, saying it would diminish Talmudic scholarship.

Instead, his students would study Tur in his presence. One it happened that the Maharival was unable to find a particular source and the declared: ‘I see that Heaven has indeed decreed that the Beit Yosef must spread throughout the world.’ And thereafter he permitted his students to study it.”[10]

Again we see the Chida framing of the events relating to the emergence of the Shulchan Aruch in a supernatural idiom. His reference to Abulafia is also noteworthy because Abulafia is regarded - even by normal mystical standards - as an ‘extreme Kabbalist’ with messianic overtones who practised ‘ecstatic’ and ‘propheticKabbalah’.  

What is also interesting, though, is that to best of my knowledge, this is the only account (albeit from a tertiary source) of some 200 rabbis accepting the new Shulchan Aruch as binding over the other Codes.

[To more fully understand the extent and significance of this Kabbalistic connection, the Reader is urged to see A Mystical Side to R. Yosef Karo.]

BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION:

Having established that there was quite a strong Kabbalistic association around the surfacing and perpetuation of R. Karo’s Shulchan Aruch, and having shown that some, like the Maharshal were rigorously opposed to its sudden emergence – we can go back to our original question: If we already had the widely accepted Code of the Rambam (and, apparently it was accepted by more than just 200 rabbis) why the need for another Code three hundred years later?

The answer may lie in the fact that, besides being a rationalist, Rambam, lived in the pre-Zoharic era. The mysticism of the Zohar was unknown before its appearance during the mid-1200s and Rambam passed away in 1204. 


However, the appearance of the Zohar changed the face of Judaism forever, with its influence - to a greater or lesser degree - affecting almost all its subsequent thought and literature.
R. Israel Drazin proposes an interesting answer as to why the later rabbis may have preferred the Shulchan Aruch to the well established Mishneh Torah of Rambam[11]:

‘CODIFYING NON-RATIONAL BEHAVIOURS’?

“The omission of rabbinical discussions and the source of the laws were the ostensible, though probably not the entire, reason other rabbis felt they had to write their own codes. This is obvious because if these two omissions were what really bothered the rabbis who composed new codes, they should have been satisfied by only adding glosses indicating the sources and opposing views.

The true reason, in all likelihood, was the inability of the non-rationalists to deal with Maimonides’ rationalism and his refusal to include superstitious practices, magical conduct, use of omens, mysticism and other irrational behaviors that were so dear to the general public. These non-rational behaviors were rampant among many Jews – including numerous rabbis...

The post-Maimonidean law books codified these types of behaviors.

R. Drazin then goes on to give some examples of ‘superstitious practices’ which are not to be found in Rambam’s Code, but yet are common in the Shulchan Aruch:

WEDDINGS DURING FULL MOON:

According to the Shulchan Aruch[12], weddings should only take place during the full moon. (Ramah comments that in Ashkenazi countries weddings took place at the beginning of the month.)[13]
This practice is not mentioned in Talmudic or Gaonic literature and is certainly not found in Mishneh Torah. 

Rambam does discourage weddings to take place on Fridays and Sunday because of possible Shabbat desecration, but not for any supernatural reasons (Ishut 10:14):




RIGHT SHOE LEFT SHOE:

R. Drazin explains that Rambam begins his Mishneh Torah by speaking about the need to acquire knowledge, while the Shulchan Aruch instructs us to put the right shoe on before the left and tying the left shoelace before the right.[14] 

Drazin mentions that Rambam does reference the preference of right over left with regard to entering the site of the Temple from the right, but for practical reasons other than ‘superstitious notions’.[15]

SLEEPING:

According to Shulchan Aruch one must not sleep in a bed facing east or west.[16]

The commentary Magen Avraham refers to the Zohar and states that there is a mystical reason for this requirement. The author of the Shulchan Arukh and many other non-rationalists were convinced that the shekhinah, the divine presence, was not a human feeling of the presence of God, but an actual divine being. Therefore, the commentary Magen David explains that since the shekhinah dwells in the west, it is forbidden for a person to turn his face or rear toward the shekhinah...

In Mishneh Torah...Maimonides states that a person should not sleep or use the bathroom while facing west but explains that it is one of many ways in which Jews remember the ancient Temple with respect: since the holy of holies was in the west of the Temple...”

WASHING HANDS:

According to the Shulchan Aruch, we wash our hands upon awakening from sleep in order to expel the ruach ra’ah, or evil spirit, which descended upon us during the night.[17]

Rambam, on the other hand, did not believe in evil spirits and regarded the washing of the hands as a mere ablution.


EVIL EYE:

1) The Shulchan Aruch prohibits two brothers, or a father and a son, from receiving an aliyah at the Torah one after the other, for fear of the evil eye.[18]

2) The Shulchan Aruch says we should not read the prayer ‘Me’ein Sheva’ (a short repetition of the Amidah) on Pesach night, because it was originally instituted to protect latecomers to the synagogue from demons. On Pesach night, we are automatically protected from demons because it is a ‘night of protection’.[19]

3) For the same reason, we do not dip Matzah into salt on Pesach evening, because the usual dipping of bread into salt is to protect from demons and this is not necessary on Pesach, as it is a ‘night of protection’. [20]

DEMONS PERVERTING JUSTICE:

In his Beit Yosef on the Tur, R. Karo mentions the idea of Mazal (constellations or demonic forces) affecting the outcome of a legal judgement. This is where the Mazal is said to favour one of the litigants over the other and the law is unable to run its normal course.

RAMBAM’S VIEW ON THESE NON-RATIONAL MATTERS:

Rambam, on the other hand, did not deal with such cases because he didn’t believe in demons or the evil eye. The purpose of his Mishneh Torah was simply to present a clear concise and understandable Code which was easy to reference (as it was one of the first Jewish works to have an index).

CONCLUSION:

R. Drazin leaves us with this thought – and it may answer our question as to why there was the need to minimise Mishneh Torah in favour of other Codes.

In true, classical, outspoken and unapologetic Maimonidean style, he suggests:

Being rational in an irrational world has its disadvantages, especially when the world is committed to believing in and applying non-rational practices. Thus, although Maimonides’ code of law was by far the most rational code written – in style, language, and content – and the most easily understood, and although the rabbis for the most part recognized that it contained the truth, the rabbis felt it was advisable to incorporate many folkways into their codes, including practices based on superstition, because they believed in the efficacy of such practices or, when they did not, because they were so dear to the general population.

This has always been the only successful way of dealing with humanity. People can only be taught at their level; it is impossible to transform the opinions and practices of the general population suddenly by mandate or by persuasion.”

Considering all the above, might it be accurate to propose that the 16th Century Shulchan Aruch was essentially the mystical response and counterpart to the rationalist 12th Century Mishneh Torah – in the same way as the Shulchan Aruch haRav was later to become the Chassidic response to Shulchan Aruch itself – and the Ben Ish Chai and Mishna Berurah were likewise to become the  (Iraqi) Sefardi and Ashkenazi responses respectively?




[1]Introduction of Rabbi Yosef Kapach to his edition of Moses Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, translated by Michael J. Bohnen.
[2] Sefer Yuchasin p. 122.
[3] R. Yaakov was the son of the Rosh.
[4] From the Introduction to the Tur, by R. Yaakov ben Asher (Rosh). These loose translations are my own.
[5] From the Introduction to the Beit Yosef, by R. Yosef Karo.
[6] Also known as the Maggid Mishna, namely R. Vidal of Tolosa (mid-1300s).
[7] Remember that Mishneh Torah and the Arba’ah Turim would have been composed and disseminated before the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s. The Shulchan Aruch, though, would have been published just after the printed book made its appearance. Hence it would have certainly appeared more authoritative than a handwritten manuscript.
[8] Introduction to Yam Shel Shlomo (Chulin).
[9] Chidah, Shem haGedolim, Ma’arechet haSefarim Erech Beit Yosef.
[10] Chida, Ma’arechet Beit Yosef.
[11] Why do the Rabbis Prefer Shulchan Aruch over Maimonides’ Code of Law? By Israel Drazin.
[12] Yoreh Deah 179:2.
[13] R. Yosef Karo wrote his Shulchan Aruch for Sefardi Jewry, and R. Moshe Isserless (Ramah) wrote addendums to R. Karo’s work, for Ashkenazim.
[14] Orach Chaim, 2:4, 5.
[15] Hilchot Beit haBechirah 7:2.
[16] Orach Chaim 3:6.
[17] Orach Chaim 4:2.
[18] Orach Chaim 140.
[19] Orach Chaim 487.
[20] Orach Chaim 475.

17 comments:

  1. This is a strange post for 2 reasons.

    1. Any historian can tell you that there was tremendous controversy in regards to the acceptance of the Mishne Torah. Notwithstanding a testimony or two, it was not accepted at it's time as the only authority in town (besides for the communities in Teiman).

    2. The SA does not rule like the Rambam on tons of things that have nothing to do with mysticism.

    In general, this article is written with a total lack of knowledge into Jewish history.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Nochum Shmaryohu Zajac for your comment.
    As mentioned, R. Avraham Zacuto, one of the first Jewish historians who wrote his Sefer Yuchasin which dealt with Jewish history up to the year 1500, is an early a source. He writes that the Mishneh Torah (despite clearly being controversial in some circles) was nevertheless 'accepted by all of Israel'.
    Additionally we have R. Kapach's testimony that Mishneh Torah was accepted in large centers (not just in Yemen) like Toledo, Castile and Tunis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. B"H.

    1. It does not help to quote individual testimonies from one or 2 people. Open up a Frenkel Rambam and check Halachah after Halachah, and you will see how the Rishonim consistently argued with the Rambam. You don't even need to go that far, just see the fact that there are Hasagos Ha'Raaved printed on the side. See the Noseh Keilim (Kesef Mishnah, Maggid Mishna ETC), and you will see how often Rishonim argued with the Rambam. While one will find individual disagreements in regards to the SA, it pails in comparison to the MT.

    2. I guess you accept my basic point, that most of the full gamut of Halochos where the SA argues with the Rambam has nothing to do with mysticism, debunking Drazin's ridiculous theory.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In the Kapach edition of Mishneh Torah, considered to be the most accurate, R. Yosef Kapach says every time Raavad appears to argue with Rambam, his intention was simply to show how there are different ways to learn out the Halacha:

    “It seems to me that we should not assume that Rabad agreed where he was silent or that he disagreed where he commented, but rather that he was disclosing to the reader the existence of another opinion.

    What Rabad wrote should not be considered his view or decision, except in the case of his responsa which are applied halacha, and in his hidushim on the Talmud, but not his hassagot in opposition to Maimonides...”

    ReplyDelete
  5. B"H

    "In the Kapach edition of Mishneh Torah, considered to be the most accurate."

    His edition may be the most accurate in the terms of what is considered proper text, not in regards to his analysis. I think the language of the Ra'aved is quite clear.

    In any event the wide gamut of Rishonim that argue or who don't Pasken according to the Rambam should put this wild notion to rest.

    Forget about Ashkenazic Rishonim, think about the Ramban, Rashba, Ritva, Ra"n and Nimukei Yosef, all of whom argue with the Rambam, and the list goes on and on (all of whom lived in Spain.

    ReplyDelete
  6. B"H

    With all due respect, the entire premise seems to be borne out of the fact, that you quote 2 authorities (one of whom lived 800 years later), and you ignore empirical evidence to be found as basic, by any person who actually sits and reads this stuff, and does not just know what he saw in a book or two.

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  7. You're absolutely correct. My premise is based on on Zacto and Kapach. (The former lived closer to Rambam than any other historic chronicler I am aware of). According to them there was widespread acceptance of the Mishneh Torah 'throughout all of Israel'.
    The fact that that goes against the way most of us (myself included) were taught, is what makes this position so interesting to me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. B"H.

    I want to reiterate a certain point. I am not basing my position, based on what I was taught.
    I am rather basing my position on clear empirical evidence, as it is eminently clear to anyone who studies what the Rishonim actually write.
    I am not reverting to authority or testimonies of chronicler, I am simply stating a simple fact that is borne out in the writings of the Rishonim. The Rambam was highly respected, but was not the final say at all.
    Another source I recommend you make usage of, is to go through Sugya after Sugya with a meiri.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for your kind suggestion but how will going from sugya to sugya, say, in the Yerushalmi change the fact that the Bavli was accepted by all of Israel?

    Either it was or it wasn't. For that you need a chronicler to show that the majority of Jews accepted one work as preeminent over the other.

    Whether there ever was a point where Mishneh Torah was in that position is debatable. The same, by the way, may be said of the other Codes.

    Until the unlikely event that we shall ever see the 'census or voting results' after each Code was produced, we look to chroniclers not sugyas.

    ReplyDelete
  10. B"H.

    I don't think you understood me. I would think one who studies the Meiri would understand. The Meiri brings in every Sugya the different opinions of different opinions of different Rishonim Rishonim. This includes the Rambam of course, but the Rambam is just one opinion among many others, and is many times not accepted.

    As a matter of fact the Meiri calls Rashi Gedolei Ha'rabannim, the Ri"f Gedolei Ha'Poskim and on the Rambam he writes Gedolei Ha'Mechabrim.

    I think any person who knows a bit of history from that era can tell you, that the Meiri's evaluation was one of the best you would get as to how the contemporary Poskim viewed the matter at the time.

    "Whether there ever was a point where Mishneh Torah was in that position is debatable. "

    SOrry it is not debatable. I don't think you grasp the overwhelming evidence known to every historian and what I have laid out, clearly points to the fact that he was not accepted as the de facto Posek.


    "Until the unlikely event that we shall ever see the 'census or voting results' after each Code was produced, we look to chroniclers not sugyas."

    According to this idea, one cannot learn history from Teshuvos for that matter. Which is of course not true.

    In any event the statement is not true. Because the best Chronicle is the posek on a Sugya who did not accept the Rambam, which shows you how he was viewed.

    With all due respect, the underlying issue here and in many articles is, where we read something in some book, without evaluating the matter independently based on out own level of understanding. If we would have evaluated this independently based not on what we were taught, but rather what we see in plain sight (for one who actually learns), then we would see in five seconds flat that these theories don't hold an ounce of water.



    ReplyDelete
  11. Its an honor to interact with someone who really learns but this is not a debate about how much one knows, its about understanding a basic principle of how texts become authoritative and binding - and that's by being accepted by a critical mass. Usually Mishneh Torah is not associated with being being accepted by that critical mass. This article is based on sources that do hold that that critical mass existed. That's all. That its an unusual view, I accept, but outside of the bubble there are are unusual views. This is normal for any investigation and does not warrant hysterical reactions.

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  12. Here are two even earlier sources which seem to imply that Rambam was accepted and followed by a critical mass:

    1)Rashba issued a ban against studying Rambam's philosophical writings (until the age of 25). He wrote:

    “The [Jewish] people are split in two [as a result of the Maimonidean rationalists].” [Minchat Kena’ot p. 730]

    "SPLIT in two" seems to imply a significant mass if not a critical one.

    2) Rashba's teacher, R. Yona Gerondi, when dealing with the same Maimonidean threat, went to the Christians – first the Franciscans and then the Dominicans - pleading:

    “Look, most of our people are heretics and unbelievers, because they were duped by R. Moses of Egypt [Maimonides] who wrote heretical books.

    You exterminate heretics, exterminate ours too.”[Iggerot Kena’ot III, 4c. (Leipzig 1859)]

    "MOST of our people are heretics (for being duped by Rambam)", also seems to imply a critical mass of Maimonidean followers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. B"H

    A few points have to be made.
    1. No where did I say that he did not have a great following. As a matter of fact, there would have been no great controversy about him, had he not had a great following. The question is if he became the unequivocal Posek Acharon, accepted by all.
    2. This is all about philosophy, not Halachah. Not that it matters so much, because the Rambam had a great following in Halachik matters, but rather this has to be pointed out if you are bringing certain points as proof.
    3. In addition the story about R. Yonah is a slanderous lie as is known to students of history.

    To elaborate:

    The letter you quote is by Radak to Rabbi Yehudah Alfacar of Toledo (Kovets Teshuvos Harambam, Igros Kenaos 4c). The Radak accused Rabbi Shlomo of Montpellier (not his student Rabeinu Yonah) of personally approaching the Christian priests with the request to burn the Moreh. However, as explained at length in Tsion, vol. 36, p. 45–52 the most reliable source we possess today about this event is the letter of Chachmei Lunil printed in Tsion, vol. 34, p. 140–143. In this letter, the unnamed informers are described as a group of Montpellier Jews opposed to the Rambam. The chachmei Lunil lived in proximity to the center of events and certainly had no motive to cover up for Rabbi Shlomo, who they attacked bitterly in their letter. Had they suspected him of direct involvement they surely would have emphasized this point. The letter also describes the punishment later meted out to the informers, the cutting of their tongues. It is clear that neither Rabbi Shlomo nor his students Rabeinu Yonah and Rabbi David suffered such a punishment.

    It seems that we are conflating this false accusation with the separate, and equally untrue, report of Rabbi Hillel Hachasid (Igros Kenaos 13–15), a talmid of Rabeinu Yonah, that relates the burning of the Talmud in Paris in 1244 to the burning of the Moreh Nevuchim. According to Rabbi Hillel’s version of events, the Moreh Nevuchim was burned in Paris, and forty days later the Talmud was burned in the same place. Rabbi Hillel says that the source of his account is “public knowledge.” Historians have completely discounted the historicity of this account.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for that contribution.

    Again, the discussion was never whether Rambam was the unequivocal Posek Acharon, but rather whether or not he was supported by a critical mass at some point before the other codes were introduced. From many of these sources, it appears quite likely that that may have been the case.

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  15. B"H

    Ok, at least we have managed to come to some sort of understanding.
    Originally you asked how the the SA superseded the MT? The question was clearly predicated on the fact that MT was universally accepted.
    Therefore we had to come up with the idea (Which is מופרך מעיקרו), that it was the minuscule amount of Kabalah, which was גובר on the MT.

    However the core preconception is no different then the following question: since a hundred thousand Chassidim accept the opinion of the Satmar Rebbe in regards to Zionism, how did it later come about that most Jews disregarded his opinion? The answer is of course, that while a critical mass of a hundred thousand Chassidim is something substantial and can even create מחלוקת, it still has no bearing for all those that either don't accept the SR outright, or accept him in some issues but not in others, and his view was not accepted in a unequivocal fashion.

    Just to conclude, since you quoted the Rashba, I would like to point out that while he quotes the Rambam all the time with great reverence, he does however disagree with him all the time.

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  16. Ok, but the Satmar example, even though it has a huge number is still not analogous to the claim of my sources which imply 'all the House of Israel' (which is what I refer to by 'critical mass').

    But, yes, nice to interact with you.

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  17. "What is also interesting, though, is that to best of my knowledge, this is the only account (albeit from a tertiary source) of some 200 rabbis accepting the new Shulchan Aruch as binding over the other Codes."

    Please see the introduction to Yalkut Yosef Chelek Bet (Kitzur) where dozens of sources for this fact are cited.

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