Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shoftim

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce the vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Devarim 17:10-11, the Torah instructs that a person should follow the dictates of the Rabbinical judges and should not sway from their words to the right or to the left.

In illustrating the above concept, Rabbi Frand made reference to a Mishna in Terumos (8:4) which states that there are three kinds of liquids - milk, water and wine, which if left uncovered overnight, should not be consumed the following morning. The reason for this prohibition was the concern that snakes might have drunk from the liquid overnight and in so doing could have secreted poison into the beverage.

Rabbi Frand then noted that although the Shulchan Aruch writes that in our generation the concern is no longer there because these types of snakes no longer are around, the Vilna Gaon was careful to never drink from uncovered liquids. He explained that the Vilna Gaon felt that even when the Rabbis gave us a specific reason for a particular prohibition, there was also a hidden rationale as well for the gezeira. Even if the revealed reason for the prohibition was no longer extant, the Vilna Gaon reasoned that the hidden purpose still dictated that the gezeira be observed.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the sefer Bei Chiya which discussed the gemara in Eruvin which states that we follow Rebbe Meir in relation to his gezeiros, even though in terms of halachic debates we did not follow him. The reason that R' Meir is not followed for halacha (as explained by Bei Chiya) is that we have a principle that we follow the plurality opinion in a rabbinical dispute and the masses always argued with R' Meir because they failed to understand his reasoning. However, in relation to gezeiros, the other scholars did not oppose him and therefore we follow him.

Rabbi Frand concluded that there are times that gezeiros exist for which we do not know the reason (fish-meat comes to my mind). It is for us to follow those gezeiros without turning to the right or left and as a result, no harm will befall us.

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