Volume 27 Number 48
                      Produced: Fri Jan  2  6:19:22 1998

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Pidyon Shevuyim
         [Tszvi Klugerman]
star notes in the Mishnah Berurah
         [Michael J Broyde]
Synagogue on Top of Town
         [Shlomo Pick]
Who's on First? : Rishonim and Acharonim
         [Mechy Frankel]


From: Tszvi Klugerman <Klugerman@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 1998 12:39:33 EST
Subject: Re: Pidyon Shevuyim

In MJ 27:4 Saul Newman <Saul.Z.Newman@...> asked
  What are the parameters today of the mitzva of pidyon shevuyim
 (redeeming the ransomed)? >>

The commandment of pidyon shevuyim , classically appiied to the Jew held
captive for the capricious whim of his captor or for monetary gain. The
Radbaz, R' David ben Avrahma Avi Zimra (16 th century) dealt with some
of the issues regarding these forms of captivity. The Babylonian Talmud
in Masechet Baba Batra calls this commandment a 'Mitzvah Rabbah' a great

However, the term 'shvuyim' -captives is not 'asurim' -prisoners. The
Rambam (Matnot Aniyim 8:10), and Shulchan Aruch use the term
'shvuyim'. These were Jews ransomed for profit.

Someone who breaks the law, IMHO, would be akin to the person discussed
in the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Gittin, 46b , who sells himself and
places himself in captivity, which also meant danger. The Talmud teaches
us not to redeem them. Knowingly breaking the law is inviting the
authorities to place the criminal under arrest.

The Talmud continues with the problem of a man who also sells his
children along with him, thereby putting them at the mercy of
another. There the Talmud demands that we redeem the children because of
the possibility of their being influenced to leave Judaism (Rashi
"mishum kilkula") or the possibility of their being killed.

The Siftei Cohen (SHACH) on the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 252:3 (5)
brings in the quality of shmirah, guarding them or protecting them ,
both spritiualy and physically.

IMHO if the prisoner were in danger of "losing their religion" or their
life then we might have to save them, in defiance of the ruling
authority. But where we have a guarantee of religious observance and the
entitlement to protection of life and limb in the justice system, than
we probably have no obligation to redeem this prisoner.

If however, it could be proven that the prisoner was unfairly sentenced
or was used as an example for others in order to deter similar crimes,
then IMHO we would have a obligation to obtain the release of the
prisoner after a fair sentence was served.

However, having visited Jewish prisoners in a minimum security prison I
would like to cite a different source. Life as a lone Jew in a society
or as part of a significant minority of Jews is difficult in the world
in general. In the hostile environment of a prison it is even more
so. The Talmud in SHabbat 133b brings the teaching of Abba Shaul. namely
that of Imitatio Dei. Ma Hu Chanun VeRachum AF ata Heyeh Rachum Ve
CHanun. Just as HE is merciful and compassionate, so should you be
merciful and compassionate.

I am not advocating, God forbid, a disregard for the Justice system of
the United States of America, Just that we try to provide for the
spiritual and physical safety of our brethren "Kol Beit Yisrael" while
our fellow Jews who have erred pay their debt to the Country/society
that has been so open to us.



From: Michael J Broyde <mbroyde@...>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 21:08:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: star notes in the Mishnah Berurah

A goodly number of people have written to me with comments on the *
notes in the mishnah berurah, and I write back to report as follows:

There are no less than 19 * notes in the MB, which cover five categories.

1.	Dina Dimalchuta Dina issues
2(12), 200(30), 307(17), 329(17), 339(11), 409(BH)
All of these notes are in the first eddition of the MB.

2.	Mussar Issues
25(1), 128(44), 428(2)
All of these notes are in the first edition of the MB.

3.	Jew Gentile Issues
224(15), 330(8).
330(8) is not in the first edition, but was added in the lifetime of the
Chafetz Chaim (when exactly, I cannot tell).  I woul appreciate help on
finding the first eddition when this change occurs.  By 1932 it is there.

4.	Retraction/Correction
158(5), 428(BH).
158(5) was added in the third edition of the MB (1915), and is missing
from the first two.

5.	Typeset Issues
233(1), 340(1), 342(BH), 539(BH), 559(ST) 560(Bhe)

All of these are in the first edition.	

Michael J. Broyde
Emory University School of Law
Atlanta, GA 30322
Voice: 404 727-7546; Fax 404 727-3374


From: Shlomo Pick <picksh@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Jan 1998 18:11:28 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Re: Synagogue on Top of Town

re: shlomo godick's quote from R.C. Mishkovski concerning the machloket
in kiryat sefer (in the name of R. A"L Steinman).  It's interesting that
in the Israeli press and radio this week of chanuka, the great machloket
in the Ponevezh yeshiva is being played up. Both the students who were
placed into nidui which was confirmed by R. Nissim Karelitz and the
disagreement among the roshei yeshiva.  Needless to say, that Vishnitz
has also had its share of machloket and their dirty laundry has been
aired in the secular israeli press also.  Interestingly, you did not
mention the Slobadka yeshiva, of which I am not aware of any makhloket.
I would be a bit skeptical of those who profess to "know" the workings
of God (according the spelling of the Rav zt"l) [although you did not
say this specifically, it is quite implied in the posting - quoting
gedolei yisrael why this tragedy happens] - one needs demonstrated
"ruach hakodesh" to suggest these things.

Shlomo Pick of Bnei Brak
Ra'm Be-Machon Hagavoah Le-Torah
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat-Gan, Israel


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 21:53:26 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Who's on First? : Rishonim and Acharonim

likayeim bisheim omiro, apologies to Laurel and Hardy - or was that
Abbott and Costello?

1.  My daughter had/has a problem with her high school jewish history
course which I'd like to throw out to the mj community for reaction or
help. It concerns her teacher's representation of the temporal boundary
between the rishonic and acharonic periods, and specifically the status
of the Mechaber, R. Y. Karo. Of course this issue is not just one of
proper historical taxonomy in an academic sense but has practical
halakhic implications bound up in the general issue of relative
authority and who is allowed, at least in theory, to dispute the
halakhic opinion of whom - after the paradigm of amoroim not being
allowed, one on one, to dispute tanoim.  This is halakhically bound up
as well with the principle that halokhoh kibasroi - (which is a
convoluted subject all by itself which I don't propose to review here -
though readers interested in the stages of evolution of this concept may
want to look at Tashma's topical article in Halakha Minhag U'Mitziut
BiAshkenaz:1100-1350, Magnes Press) with the Alshikh's formulation -
that halokhoh kibasroi is applicable only within a halakhic era, such as
later amoroim vs earlier ones, but is not applicable across halakhic
eras, i.e. an acharon may not, one on one, dispute a rishon - still
holding up pretty well a few hundred years later.  In any event her
teacher told her that the period of Rishonim extends right through the
beginning of the 16th century, with R. Yosef Karo and his Shulchon Aruch
marking the end of this halakhic period.  She was surprised by this, as
I was, since we had previously discussed related matters and shared en
passant what I until then naively thought was the universal
persrspective that the period of rishonim poops out by the mid 1300s -
basically with the black death driven upheavals in Europe -with sefardim
a somewhat ill defined later but certainly well prior to the Mechaber.

2.  I've since experienced two surprise reality checks to show that her
teacher's opinion was based on some more widespread perception. The
first occurred during parent conferences when I noticed a glossy printed
poster on the wall with a timeline on it, which, sure enough, counted
the Shulchon Aruch as a rishon. The second came last month as my
daughter was reviewing some her older sister's old Michlala notes -
while preparing for her own Michlala interview/test - and again, there
it was - the Michlala teacheress had indeed taught her class that the
Shulchon Aruch was a rishon.  And while neither of these latter two data
points constitutes what you might call a source to be reckoned with,
clearly there's something more afoot out there.

3.  Without reviewing the whole matter here, it should be said that the
conception that European rishonim end with the black death rests on two
generic arguments.
  A: The first is in the voluminously documented self recognition by the
first generations following the black death and its attendent pogroms
and upheavals, of their lowered status as compared with the generations
prior to the "gizeiros" (as they were known in the literature.)  The
following (Maharil, simon 67) being pretty typical "zeh hamichaber hoyoh
qodem hagizeiros she'yoduoh she'oz hoyu gionei eretz..kilum yeish bidor
hazeh she'yochol li'fakpek bozeh..-this author lived before the gizeiros
when there were great talmidei chachomim..which fact no one of this
generation would dispute".  15h century Ashkenzi rabbis such as Maharil
(actually got started in 14th), Mahari Weill, Maharik (ok so he's
italian) all stressed that their generation could not dispute decisions
of the earlier ones.  (see Dinari's "Chachmei Ashkenaz Bishalhei Yimei
Habaynayim", Mosad Bialik, for extensive documentation of this
generational self-perception that a new halakhic era had commenced).
They and other contemporaries are also frequently and tellingly referred
to by subsequent generations of halakhic literature as "gidolei

B: The other line of reasoning considers what the generations following
the Shulchon Aruch considered his staus and authority relative
aknowledged rishonim to be.  Thus, e.g., the Alshikh (simon 39) writing
of the Maharik - who died before the Mechaber was even born - takes it
for granted that he can not be given halakhic precedence as basroi
compared to Tosephos since he already lived in a different halakhic era,
i.e. he was an acharon.  And lest this and many other data points be
waved off as before-the-consensus sentiments, consider the very modern -
and Mechaber partisan at that- Yabia Omer (intro to orach chayim, chelek
5) who, referencing the comfortably 1300's Ritvoh and Ran, refers to
them as "acharonei ho'rishonim" who took halakhic precedence because
they had before them all the works of the rishonim.

In an enlightening early demonstration of the power of computers to
contribute to the halakhic discourse, (as if mj weren't enough)
R. Y. Pitchenik published (Shonoh BiShonoh, 1983) a computerized survey
of the responsa literature (available at an earlier stage of the Bar
Ilan project which at that time included a searchable digitized archive
of about 100 of the better known shailos and tishuvos) and searched for
all the actual references by poskim to their predecessor-generation
poskim and their halakhic categorization as either rishonim or
acharonim.  The conclusion is both forced and unassailable. To quote
Pitchenik's article "The last of the Ashkenazic rishonim that we've
found is the Sefer Agudoh (d. 1349), in Ashkenaz we also find the
gidolei ho'acharonim beginning with the Maharil (b. 1360),...  the era
of the rishonim in Ashkenaz ends around 1350".  In sefard we find (a
few) references to rishonim up to 90 years later - included in this
category are the Nimukei Yosef, Ribash, Abudraham, and Rashbetz - but
all such references peter out comfortably before the Mechaber was born.
As well, in another summary article Yoveil (Tsiyon, 1968) reviews the
arguments for identifying the end of this halakhic era, and also arrives
at the butressed by the literature conclusion, mostly an examination of
the self perception of the 15th century gidolim, that it ends with the
black death.

4.  It is worth emphasizing as well that the enormous samchus of the
Mechaber's Shulchon Aruch (at least in confluence with its' penumbral
Remoh, Mogen Avrohom, Shach, Taz -are they supposed to be rishonim too?)
is quite clearly due to his contemporaries' and successors' appreciation
of the Mechaber as a great posek, not because of a greater status of
someone belonging to the previous rishonic era of gidolim. Again
R. Obadiah Yosef's Yabia Omer (intro to orach chayim chelek 5) makes
this crystal clear as he quotes approvingly from another sefardic poseq
that "shem'maiahar shem'maran zal hu mara d'atrah wi'qibbalnu horo'atav,
harei dibarav huqbi'u aleinu li'hobah bi'chol dinei torah ki'qulotav
wi'ki'humirotav..wi'afilu rabbim holiqim alav - since Maran z"l is the
the accepted halakhic authority in the land and we have accepted his
decisions, his words are incumbent on us for all matters whether for
leniency or stingency..and even if many dispute him" (note 1: given the
identity of this quotee, I didn't feel right deploying my usual
ashkenazic transliterational prejudices here, note 2: Sefardic sources
refer to the Mechaber as "Maran", a notrikon for "Matayim Rabbanim
Nismah", i.e. a tradition that 200 then-contemporary rabbonim agreed to
his decisions).

5.  After writing the above paragraphs I checked the Encyclopedia
Judaica's take on this issue and found an odd position which ties the
end of the rishonim to the institution of the ashkenazi simichoh in the
mid 1400s with the last rishonim in this scheme being the Terumas
Hadeshen and R.  Y. Moellin. For good or ill measure i then looked in
our local bookstore at the Art Scroll publication entitled "The
Rishonim" which is composed of very short summary biographies and
includes a number of the the 15th century gidolim in the rishonim count.
While the arguments for placing the end of the rishonim a 100 years
earlier, cited in the third paragraph, are not addressed and still seem
unassailable, at least neither of these (the scholarly EJ or popular Art
Scroll), count R. Y. Karo as a rishon.

6.  So my problem.  This seemingly widespread notion , that R. Y. Karo
was a rishon -, shared at a minimum by my daughter's history teacher,
her school board poster, and at least one Michlala lecturer, where did
it come from?  Is there any halakhic authority who espoused such a view?
- they're the only ones to whom this matters operationally and should be
the only ones whose vote counts, which is why Pichenik's and Yoveil's
conclusions seem so convincing - and how common is this perception?  The
urgency here is not quite up there with bringing world peace or a truly
drinkable diet cola, but any insight would be duly appreciated.

Mechy Frankel  				W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>			H: (301) 593-3949       


End of Volume 27 Issue 48