Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Say it ain't so!

Everyone knows that it's a big merit to marry the daughter of a talmid chacham. After all, what's the first question out of your lips when the shadchan comes a'calling about this great girl from a fine family? You don't ask if she's highly attractive, if her parents invested their life savings with Warren Buffett in 1964, or if her brothers were MVPs of their basketball teams at Camp Haka in 1994. No my friends, you ask if her father is a genuine, A-OK, 100 percent American certified Talmid Chacham. Oh yeah.

Well folks, sorry to burst your bubble, but you were born about five hundred years too late. Why? Because there are no talmidei chachamim nowadays.

For example, a Jew is not allowed to go to sleep on a boat that's tied to the bank of a river on shabbos if he knows that a non-Jew will come along and row, row, row that boat gently down the stream and over to the other bank. Why not? Because he knows the non-Jew is gonna come and move that momma-who is he fooling?

On the other hand, a talmid chacham is allowed to sleep there, or to say he's going to sleep there, even though he knows full well that when he "wakes up" he's going to find himself on a new side of town. Why? Go look it up (מסכת שבת קלט עמוד ב). However, nowadays this isn't permitted, because there ain't no talmidei chachamim who can pull stunts like this.

So now you're gonna say, "Hey boy, wait a minute there, there's only no talmidei chachamim who can pull a stunt like that-but just regular old plain talmidei chachamim with eligible daughters? There's plenty of those! (c.f. New Jersey, Lakewood)" Well sorry to rock your boat wiseguy, but you're wrong.

In the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (סימן שיד, הלכה כ) it says that a talmid chacham is allowed to plug a hole in a barrel with a piece of food and say that he's doing it to protect the food, when in reality he's doing it to protect whatever's inside the barrel. Even if this talmid chacham doesn't use the legal fiction it's not really so bad, because covering the barrel for the purposes of covering a barrel is only forbidden by the rabbis (under the prohibition of fixing a vessel). Besides, this guy's a talmid chacham, he wouldn't do something like this without employing a legal fiction anyway.

However, it is forbidden for an עם הארץ to do this, because we don't trust him to employ a legal fiction when he's doing it. Basically, the guy has no clue what he's doing, and the chances of him saying the right things to the right people at the right time are practically nil.

There are some (the Rambam among them) who permit even an עם הארץ to do this trick, and we rely on these words for a talmid chacham, even though for everything else there aren't any talmidei chachamim left.

What does this mean? That's right folks, ain't no stopping us now! I mean, it means that for all practical purposes (besides for closing holes in barrels with chicken bones) there are no talmidei chachamim left. Yup, next time some poor Bobover chosson comes up to you in 770 begging for money for his chasuna, claiming that his father is a big talmid chacham and has seventeen kids besides, tell him he's a liar!

Then give him five bucks, because that's the nice thing to do.

55 comments:

Sebastion said...

Now your just making excuses for yourself.

Mottel said...

By Am Ha'aretzim we see explicitly in chazal that there are many dargas - from someone who we are choshed will rape his wife, to someone who doesn't say krais shma twice a day . . . or even someone who learns but doesn't serve talmidei chachamim.

By Talmidei chachamim it's the same deal. There are many different dargas in talmid chachim and thus bas T"Ch

The Real Shliach said...

Sebastion: yeah like, whatever.

Mottel: ditto.

Mottel said...

To dismiss our arguments like that shows that you are not interested in real discussion.

Qtap said...

I'm a might confused here. You start off saying there are no talmidei chachamim, and then go on to bring some sources. But your quoting doesn't actually state that they don't exist today, rather that they are few and far between.

Admittedly, I don't know the sources, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab a gemara.

Qtap said...

From what I see, the gemara is defining a Talmid chacham as one who would not come to transgress a dirabbanan, let alone a daraisa, had the 'legal fiction' not been in place. As such it is not a problem that it is in places as they wont come to forget that it is a mere farce and transgress. In short, they are a benoni.

In which case, yeah, there really aren't too many of them around, though we d try. On the other hand, as Mottel said, there are levels.

In the same way that one can be a benoni, while not being a benoni of the Tanya, could one not also be a talmid chacham, but not that of the Gemara?

Altie said...

oh, but it is

Cheerio said...

so, nu, what's wrong with being an am haaretz?

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

LEZ ; 7

The Real Shliach said...

Mottel: if you had made an argument then I could argue with you.

Qtap: what are you going on about? It's very simple. There are no people who are considered to be talmdei chachamim nowadays, except for the ענין of stuffing chicken into holes in barrels. That's it. Comprende?

Altie: is what?

Cheerio: kashrus.

Lars: can we help you?

e said...

#Rabbi Lars Shalom:

He's a certified nut. Did you ever check out his blogs?

RE: the post itself

This is part of the general trend in Judaism: each generation of rabbis has less beitzim than their predecessors. Were the run-of-the-mill talmidei chachamim in Talmudic times so much better than contemporary talmidei chachomim that it's impossible for anyone to ever reach their level?

I doubt it. just the rabbis lack confidence. They say, "Who knows the real definition of talmid chacham? Let's just be machmir." The same of kind of spinelessness shows up in many other areas of halacha. You see this all the time when you learn semicha.

The Real Shliach said...

Lars=special.

e: what do you mean? We aren't even like the donkey of R. Pinchas Ben Yair!

e said...

my point exactly.

The Real Shliach said...

Oh ye of little faith.

e said...

an apt description.

e said...

there's no unidimensional continuum of love. There are different types. If you want, I can give examples.

Le7 loves TRS.
Sebastion likes TRS.
Shall I give an example of a crush?

Qtap said...

TRS, no, I don't understand. Eithere there are no talmidei chachamim, or there are people who can stop barrels with chickin(or garlic). One who is allowed to stop a barrel in such a manner is only one who is a talmid chacham, no? Ergo, there must be talmidei chachamim.

Crawling Axe said...

Is it the case that there aren't or that we don't assume someone is and therefore don't allow something? I mean, isn't that a normal thing to do: when you know something is rare, in a given situation assume it is not that?

e, are you talking about intellectual prowess or ruach ha'koidesh?

Crawling Axe said...

Also, if you want to know, warfarin sodium is widely used and causes bleeding. (I.e., subscribing...)

The Real Shliach said...

e: I assume that was meant for a different post...

But yes (wicked grin), please give an example.

Qtap: there are only talmidei chachamim when it comes to this one inyan. The world is not black and white-allow a little grey into it!

CA: please give a longer and more detailed description of warfarin sodium.

Crawling Axe said...

About that.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

e is right. Today rabbis have no beitzim to the point that they call them beiyim as if it was somehow politer.

Re talmidei chachomim: They exist, but they're too busy learning to comment on grace's blog.

Qtap said...

Just to clarify, there are some talmidie chachamim, but only to the extent that they can leave food around the house, right?

Colour-wise, I never really did get that colloquialism.

The Real Shliach said...

CA: et tu brute?

Modeh: they're also too busy to be found in the shulchan oruch?

Qtap: let me try this again. There are no talmidei chachamim. There are "talmidei chachamim".

Qtap said...

Why didn't you say that in the first place?

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

TRS: There are no talmidei chachamim for the mechaber to call talmidei chachamim. There are talmidei chachamim for some bored lubav blogger to call talmidei chachamim.

le7 said...

I think Lars wants me to help him... but that is not happening.

The Real Shliach said...

Modeh: hey, I'm just writing what the good book says...

le7: help him with what?

le7 said...

No idea but look at what he wrote...

The Real Shliach said...

I didn't get it then, I don't get it now...

jewpublic club said...

Let me correct your mistake - according to Talmud there are talmidei chachomim and a lot of them. Well they in the minority but they there. Your misconception comes from mixing Gedolei Hador with Talmidei Chachomim. How hard is it to be talmid chocham? According to Gemara Megila there are three types of them - wise either in Mikra, Halacha(mishna) and Talmud. What does it take to be chocham in one of the three? Know it all by heart? No. If you learned all TaNaCH and with a little reminder and brief look inside he remembers the INYAN, he is a talmid chocham. If you learned 4 out of sidros of mishnayos and remember it as one slightly remembers TaNaCH you're talmid chocham. If you learned and remember 7 mesechtos of talmud the same way as T"CH of TaNaCH OR Mishna - you're talmid chocham. Now, are you here to guaranty that no one learns anything?

The Real Shliach said...

Did you read the post? If you had you would have read that according to the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Oruch (heard of the Rav?) there are no talmidei chachamim left. It's right there in Siman 314. Go look it up. Obviously, in the times of the Gemara, there were talmidei chachamim. Now there aren't. Go figure.

Cheerio said...

regardless of where e. brought it up, i want to hear his example of a crush.

Sebastion said...

Yes, quite!

Altie said...

trs- say it aint so...

Menashe said...

Reporting from tiferes. Am I yotzei now?

The Real Shliach said...

Cheerio: taken care of

J: Not so much

Altie: Say what ain't so?

Menashe: Excellent.

Altie said...

menashe- tiferes as in yeshiva?

trs- u are sloooooow.

The Real Shliach said...

nu nu.

Mottel said...

-Altie No . . . As in the sefirah that comes after Gevura!

Altie said...

mottel- dont be sarcastic, thats my thing.

trs- 'say it aint so'. oh, but it is.

wtvr. some things are better remained unexplained.

muse said...

just as many now as then

ain chadash tachat hashemesh

The Real Shliach said...

Maybe if I started paying people they'd listen to what I'm saying here?

Let's put it this way: Are there prophets around anymore? All right, so the Rambam says there are. So let's see...maybe there's one or two? Ditto for talmidei chachamim. Maybe there's one or two. What's so difficult for people to understand?

e said...

cheerio: if i discussed the crush thing explicitly, i'd embarress a lot of innocent ppl.

CA: I don't know about ruach hakodesh, but let's talk about brains. Why should we assume that a rabbi today must be intellectually weaker than a rabbi from a previous generation, and that there's no way he can understand the gemara or the shulchan aruch as well as that guy?

e said...

or else you'll miss a chance to hang out with the coolest people in crown heights and share you wonderful poetry with them.

Crawling Axe said...

Completely ignoring ruach ha’koidesh?

1) Nothing to do with brains. Mesoira. They don’t live in the same “air” of tradition. It’s not unique to Torah. You could apply the same to soccer, chess, Russian literature, science, fencing (pretty much things outside of Torah I care about). If the ongoing excellence of tradition is weakened, the mastery of the said discipline will weaken too.

2) Brains. Same idea, really, but from more Neuroscientific, rather than psychological or sociological point of view. If your brains are not stimulated to the same degree, they won’t be quite as developed in the same area.

To be honest, I don’t believe in 2).

But for me, it’s all about ruach ha’koidesh. We don’t make decisions and see clearly in Torah ourselves. We do it with the help of Heavens. Every single step in the development of Jewish tradition was based on the assumption that our ruchnius is becoming weaker.

Otherwise, we should have no mesoira at all: why should I care what a rabbi in the previous generation (or 100 generations ago) said? I am quite as capable of discovering the truth — even better, because I am doing it for the present dor. (I mean, you really have to go all the way back to the Golden Calf.)

I just wonder whether Rambam in his introduction to M"T meant that people became dumber or just less spiritually sensitive and that the general culture of learning weakened?

There is a good shiur on this topic, actually.

The Real Shliach said...

Re: CA: have you seen the rabbis we have nowadays?

Re: poetry: what's with you and leaving comments on the wrong post?

Crawling Axe said...

A couple. Why?

The Real Shliach said...

Sorry, that was directed at e. I hadn't seen your excellent comment when I posted mine.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

I want to know where you get that learning 7 masechtos makes you a talmid chacham. It makes you a lakewood bochur, member of the most pathetic am haaretz class on eart, and a pretty poor one to boot.

e said...

trs: sorry. i have too many tabs open. but you got my point re poetry, not?

ca: this is a bit of a circular argument. we assume that the generations are getting dumber, because that's how halacha works.

The Real Shliach said...

Modeh: excellent point!

e: listen, back in the day, apikorsim were real apikorsim-now? They're just am ha'ratzim.

Crawling Axe said...

listen, back in the day, apikorsim were real apikorsim-now? They're just am ha'ratzim.

That’s for sure. Even a few years ago. I mean, I was a much better atheist in my atheist days than some atheists I meet nowadays.

e: what do you mean? Halacha is decided by individuals based on what they see in front of them? Who decided that we can’t pasken Halacha just by looking in Talmud?

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

TRS: The only reason lakewood am haartzim are more pathetic than lubavitcher am haartzim is because the fakewooders think they know something.

CA: Halacha is not decided based on what you see in front of you ayen Rosh B"M 6:-7.

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