Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Berachot 63: Must we follow the pesak of Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael?

Here is an interesting parallel to the events of Chanania intercalating the year in Chutz LaAretz, in Yerushalmi Nedarim.

On Berachot 63a-b, we had the following:
R. Safra said: R. Abbahu used to relate that when Hananiah the son of R. Joshua's brother went down to the Diaspora,38  he began to intercalate the years and fix new moons outside Palestine. So they [the Beth din] sent after him two scholars, R. Jose b. Kippar and the grandson of R. Zechariah b. Kebutal. When he saw them, he said to them: Why have you come? — They replied: We have come to learn Torah [from you]. He thereupon proclaimed: These men are among the most eminent of the generation. They and their ancestors have ministered in the Sanctuary (as we have learnt: Zechariah b. Kebutal said: Several times I read to him39  out of the book of Daniel). Soon they began to declare clean what he declared unclean and to permit what he forbade. Thereupon he proclaimed: These men are worthless, they are good for nothing. They said to him: You have already built and you cannot overthrow, you have made a fence and you cannot break it down.40  He said to them: Why do you declare clean when I declare unclean, why do you permit when I forbid? — They replied: Because you intercalate years and fix new moons outside of Palestine. He said to them: Did not Akiba son of Joseph intercalate years and fix new moons outside of Palestine?41  — They replied: Don't cite R. Akiba, who left not his equal in the Land of Israel. He said to them: I also left not my equal in the Land of Israel. They said to him: The kids which you left behind have become goats with horns, and they have sent us to you, bidding us, 'Go and tell him in our name. If he listens, well and good; if not, he will be excommunicated. Tell also our brethren in the Diaspora [not to listen to him]. If they listen to you, well and good; if not, let them go up to the mountain, let Ahia1  build an altar and let Hananiah play the harp,2  and let them all become renegades and say that they have no portion in the God of Israel'. Straightway all the people broke out into weeping and cried, Heaven forbid, we have a portion in the God of Israel. Why all this to-do? — Because it says, For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.3  We can understand that if he declared clean they should declare unclean, because this would be more stringent. But how was it possible that they should declare clean what he declared unclean, seeing that it has been taught: If a Sage has declared unclean, his colleague is not permitted to declare clean? — They thought proper to act thus so that the people should not be drawn after him.
The parallel in Yerushalmi Nedarim 23a-b reads as follows. I'll pull it from the excellent Yedid Nefesh Yerushalmi, which is like a Hebrew Artscroll for Yerushalmi, where the work is already complete. (Artscroll in the sense of running translation and halacha at the bottom, but not with Artscroll's footnotes.)
 "We do not intercalate the year except in Judea, and if they intercalated it in Galilee it is intercalated. Rabbi Chanania man of Ono testified that if they are unable to intercalate the year in Judea, they intercalate it in Galilee. They do not intercalate the year in Chutz LaAretz and if they intercalate it, it is not intercalated. [This is all] where they are able to intercalate it in Eretz Yisrael, but if they are unable to intercalate it in Eretz Yisrael, then they do intercalate it in Chutz LaAretz.

Yirmeyahu [haNavi] intercalated in Chutz LaAretz. Yechezkel [haNavi] intercalated in Chutz LaAretz. Baruch [ben Neriah, Yirmeyahu's scribe] intercalated in Chutz LaAretz.

Chanania the son of the brother of Rabbi Yehoshua [ben Chanania] intercalated in Chutz LaAretz. Rabbi sent him three letters via Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Natan. In one of them he wrote, 'to the holiness of Chananiah'. And in one of them he wrote, 'The kids which you left behind have become goats with horns.' And in one of them he wrote, 'if you do not accept upon yourself [the times set in Eretz Yisrael] go out to the wilderness of thornbushes, and slaughter there, and Nechunyon will sprinkle [the blood of the korban].'

By the first letter, he honored them. [See parallel Bavli.] By the second letter, he honored them. By the third letter, he wished to shame them. They said to him, 'you are unable, for you already honored us'.

Rabbi Yitzchak [the agent] arose and read [perhaps in a derasha]: It is stated in the Torah, "Eleh Moadei Chanania son of the brother of Rabbi Yehoshua". They [the tzibbur] said to him [correcting him]: By us [is written] Moadei Hashem! He said to them, [only] by us [but not by you]!

Rabbi Natan [the other agent] arose and finished: Ki MiBavel Teitzei Torah Udvar HaShem MiNehar Pekod. They said to him: Ki miTzion Teitzei Torah Udvar Hashem miyrushalayim! He said to them: By us!

He [Chanania] went to Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira in Netzivin [to complain]. He [R' Yehuda ben Beteira] said to him: After them, after them. He said to him: Don't you know what I left there [in terms of the low caliber of Talmidei Chachamim there]? Who will tell me that they are Chachamim who can calculate as well as me? [R' Yehuda ben Beteira answered]: Since you say that they do not know how to calculate as well as you, they should listen to you? Rather, since they say that they are Chachamim [alternatively, knowledgeable to] calculate like you, you should listen to them! He [R' Yehuda ben Beteira] arose and rode on his horse. To the places he reached, he reached [and they followed his advice]. To the places he did not reach, they acted inappropriately.

It is written [in Yirmeya 29:1]:
א  וְאֵלֶּה דִּבְרֵי הַסֵּפֶר, אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַח יִרְמְיָה הַנָּבִיא מִירוּשָׁלִָם--אֶל-יֶתֶר זִקְנֵי הַגּוֹלָה, וְאֶל-הַכֹּהֲנִים וְאֶל-הַנְּבִיאִים וְאֶל-כָּל-הָעָם, אֲשֶׁר הֶגְלָה נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר מִירוּשָׁלִַם, בָּבֶלָה.1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders of the captivity, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon,

Hashem said: More [yeter] are they dear to me, the zekeinim of the Diaspora; yey the smallest kat [set] in Eretz Yisrael are dearer to me than the Sanhedrin outside the land.

But it is written [II Melachim 24]:
טז  וְאֵת כָּל-אַנְשֵׁי הַחַיִל שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים, וְהֶחָרָשׁ וְהַמַּסְגֵּר אֶלֶף--הַכֹּל, גִּבּוֹרִים עֹשֵׂי מִלְחָמָה; וַיְבִיאֵם מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל גּוֹלָה, בָּבֶלָה.16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths a thousand, all of them strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

[which is darshened in praise of Talmidei Chachamim of the Diaspora, who silence all others in their Torah wisdom] and you say this?!

Rabbi Berechia citing Rabbi Chelbo, and the Sages [each resolved this].  Rabbi Chelbo said: The charash were a thousand and the masger were a thousand; and the Sages said: in their entirety they were a thousand.

Rabbi Berechia citing Rabbi Chelbo said: These were the Chaveirim [Sages]. And the Sages said: These were the important officials."

End translation of the Yerushalmi.

What is this business of setting up one's own altar, which features in both Bavli and Yerushalmi. See sefer Yehoshua, perek 22, where Bnei Gad, Bnei Reuven, and half of Shevet Menashe, built their own altar there. It was as close to 'outside the land' as they had at the time, and it seemed like they were going to go it alone and sever their connection from the rest of Klal Yisrael. I will reproduce it here:
י  וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-גְּלִילוֹת הַיַּרְדֵּן, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיִּבְנוּ בְנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד וַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט הַמְנַשֶּׁה שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ, עַל-הַיַּרְדֵּן--מִזְבֵּחַ גָּדוֹל, לְמַרְאֶה.10 And when they came unto the region about the Jordan, that is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, a great altar to look upon.
יא  וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר:  הִנֵּה בָנוּ בְנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד וַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט הַמְנַשֶּׁה אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, אֶל-מוּל אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן--אֶל-גְּלִילוֹת הַיַּרְדֵּן, אֶל-עֵבֶר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.11 And the children of Israel heard say: 'Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar in the forefront of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that pertaineth to the children of Israel.'
יב  וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, שִׁלֹה, לַעֲלוֹת עֲלֵיהֶם, לַצָּבָא.  {פ}12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up against them to war. {P}
יג  וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל-בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וְאֶל-בְּנֵי-גָד, וְאֶל-חֲצִי שֵׁבֶט-מְנַשֶּׁה--אֶל-אֶרֶץ הַגִּלְעָד:  אֶת-פִּינְחָס, בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן.13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest;
יד  וַעֲשָׂרָה נְשִׂאִים, עִמּוֹ--נָשִׂיא אֶחָד נָשִׂיא אֶחָד לְבֵית אָב, לְכֹל מַטּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְאִישׁ רֹאשׁ בֵּית-אֲבוֹתָם הֵמָּה, לְאַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.14 and with him ten princes, one prince of a fathers' house for each of the tribes of Israel; and they were every one of them head of their fathers' houses among the thousands of Israel.
טו  וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וְאֶל-בְּנֵי-גָד, וְאֶל-חֲצִי שֵׁבֶט-מְנַשֶּׁה--אֶל-אֶרֶץ הַגִּלְעָד; וַיְדַבְּרוּ אִתָּם, לֵאמֹר.15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying:
טז  כֹּה אָמְרוּ כֹּל עֲדַת יְהוָה, מָה-הַמַּעַל הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר מְעַלְתֶּם בֵּאלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לָשׁוּב הַיּוֹם, מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה--בִּבְנוֹתְכֶם לָכֶם מִזְבֵּחַ, לִמְרָדְכֶם הַיּוֹם בַּיהוָה.16 'Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD: What treachery is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, to rebel this day against the LORD?
יז  הַמְעַט-לָנוּ, אֶת-עֲו‍ֹן פְּעוֹר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הִטַּהַרְנוּ מִמֶּנּוּ, עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה; וַיְהִי הַנֶּגֶף, בַּעֲדַת יְהוָה.17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves unto this day, although there came a plague upon the congregation of the LORD,
יח  וְאַתֶּם תָּשֻׁבוּ הַיּוֹם, מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה; וְהָיָה, אַתֶּם תִּמְרְדוּ הַיּוֹם בַּיהוָה, וּמָחָר, אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יִקְצֹף.18 that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to-day against the LORD, that to-morrow He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.
יט  וְאַךְ אִם-טְמֵאָה אֶרֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶם, עִבְרוּ לָכֶם אֶל-אֶרֶץ אֲחֻזַּת יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר שָׁכַן-שָׁם מִשְׁכַּן יְהוָה, וְהֵאָחֲזוּ, בְּתוֹכֵנוּ; וּבַיהוָה אַל-תִּמְרֹדוּ, וְאֹתָנוּ אַל-תִּמְרֹדוּ, בִּבְנֹתְכֶם לָכֶם מִזְבֵּחַ, מִבַּלְעֲדֵי מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ.19 Howbeit, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD'S tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us; but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar besides the altar of the LORD our God.
כ  הֲלוֹא עָכָן בֶּן-זֶרַח, מָעַל מַעַל בַּחֵרֶם, וְעַל-כָּל-עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, הָיָה קָצֶף:  וְהוּא אִישׁ אֶחָד, לֹא גָוַע בַּעֲו‍ֹנוֹ.  {ס}20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass concerning the devoted thing, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.' {S}
כא  וַיַּעֲנוּ בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד, וַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט הַמְנַשֶּׁה; וַיְדַבְּרוּ, אֶת-רָאשֵׁי אַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered, and spoke unto the heads of the thousands of Israel:
כב  אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה, הוּא יֹדֵעַ, וְיִשְׂרָאֵל, הוּא יֵדָע:  אִם-בְּמֶרֶד וְאִם-בְּמַעַל בַּיהוָה, אַל-תּוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.22 'God, God, the LORD, God, God, the LORD, He knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in treachery against the LORD--save Thou us not this day--
כג  לִבְנוֹת לָנוּ מִזְבֵּחַ, לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה; וְאִם-לְהַעֲלוֹת עָלָיו עוֹלָה וּמִנְחָה, וְאִם-לַעֲשׂוֹת עָלָיו זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים--יְהוָה, הוּא יְבַקֵּשׁ.23 that we have built us an altar to turn away from following the LORD; or if to offer thereon burnt-offering or meal-offering, or if to offer sacrifices of peace-offerings thereon, let the LORD Himself require it;
כד  וְאִם-לֹא מִדְּאָגָה מִדָּבָר, עָשִׂינוּ אֶת-זֹאת לֵאמֹר:  מָחָר, יֹאמְרוּ בְנֵיכֶם לְבָנֵינוּ לֵאמֹר, מַה-לָּכֶם, וְלַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.24 and if we have not rather out of anxiety about a matter done this, saying: In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying: What have ye to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?
כה  וּגְבוּל נָתַן-יְהוָה בֵּינֵנוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶם בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד, אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן--אֵין-לָכֶם חֵלֶק, בַּיהוָה; וְהִשְׁבִּיתוּ בְנֵיכֶם אֶת-בָּנֵינוּ, לְבִלְתִּי יְרֹא אֶת-יְהוָה.25 for the LORD hath made the Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no portion in the LORD; so might your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.
כו  וַנֹּאמֶר--נַעֲשֶׂה-נָּא לָנוּ, לִבְנוֹת אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ:  לֹא לְעוֹלָה, וְלֹא לְזָבַח.26 Therefore we said: Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt-offering, nor for sacrifice;
כז  כִּי עֵד הוּא בֵּינֵינוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶם, וּבֵין דֹּרוֹתֵינוּ אַחֲרֵינוּ, לַעֲבֹד אֶת-עֲבֹדַת יְהוָה לְפָנָיו, בְּעֹלוֹתֵינוּ וּבִזְבָחֵינוּ וּבִשְׁלָמֵינוּ:  וְלֹא-יֹאמְרוּ בְנֵיכֶם מָחָר לְבָנֵינוּ, אֵין-לָכֶם חֵלֶק בַּיהוָה.27 but it shall be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may do the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt-offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace-offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come: Ye have no portion in the LORD.
כח  וַנֹּאמֶר--וְהָיָה כִּי-יֹאמְרוּ אֵלֵינוּ וְאֶל-דֹּרֹתֵינוּ, מָחָר; וְאָמַרְנוּ רְאוּ אֶת-תַּבְנִית מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר-עָשׂוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, לֹא לְעוֹלָה וְלֹא לְזֶבַח--כִּי-עֵד הוּא, בֵּינֵינוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶם.28 Therefore said we: It shall be, when they so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we shall say: Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt-offering, nor for sacrifice; but it is a witness between us and you.
כט  חָלִילָה לָּנוּ מִמֶּנּוּ לִמְרֹד בַּיהוָה, וְלָשׁוּב הַיּוֹם מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה, לִבְנוֹת מִזְבֵּחַ, לְעֹלָה לְמִנְחָה וּלְזָבַח--מִלְּבַד, מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, אֲשֶׁר, לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכָּנוֹ.  {פ}29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn away this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt-offering, for meal-offering, or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the LORD our God that is before His tabernacle.' {P}
ל  וַיִּשְׁמַע פִּינְחָס הַכֹּהֵן, וּנְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה וְרָאשֵׁי אַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ, אֶת-הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבְּרוּ בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד וּבְנֵי מְנַשֶּׁה; וַיִּיטַב, בְּעֵינֵיהֶם.30 And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation, even the heads of the thousands of Israel that were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them well.
לא  וַיֹּאמֶר פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֶל-בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וְאֶל-בְּנֵי-גָד וְאֶל-בְּנֵי מְנַשֶּׁה, הַיּוֹם יָדַעְנוּ כִּי-בְתוֹכֵנוּ יְהוָה, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-מְעַלְתֶּם בַּיהוָה, הַמַּעַל הַזֶּה; אָז, הִצַּלְתֶּם אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--מִיַּד יְהוָה.31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh: 'This day we know that the LORD is in the midst of us, because ye have not committed this treachery against the LORD; now have ye delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.'
לב  וַיָּשָׁב פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְהַנְּשִׂיאִים מֵאֵת בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּמֵאֵת בְּנֵי-גָד מֵאֶרֶץ הַגִּלְעָד, אֶל-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן--אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיָּשִׁבוּ אוֹתָם, דָּבָר.32 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them back word.
לג  וַיִּיטַב הַדָּבָר, בְּעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיְבָרְכוּ אֱלֹהִים, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְלֹא אָמְרוּ, לַעֲלוֹת עֲלֵיהֶם לַצָּבָא, לְשַׁחֵת אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ.33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and spoke no more of going up against them to war, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and the children of Gad dwelt.
לד  וַיִּקְרְאוּ בְּנֵי-רְאוּבֵן וּבְנֵי-גָד, לַמִּזְבֵּחַ:  כִּי עֵד הוּא בֵּינֹתֵינוּ, כִּי יְהוָה הָאֱלֹהִים.  {פ}34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar--: 'for it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.' {P}
This is why Bavli features the assertion that they should declare that they have no portion in the God of Israel. See pasuk 25 and 27.

I would add that there are some rabbis (and in fact, some people who have communicated with me privately by email) who make a similar assertion -- that in halacha, we must now all follow the "Gedolim" in Eretz Yisrael, because of the idea of Ki Mitzion Teitzei Torah. Here is an example.

Besides that I don't know that the Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael are as competent to pasken, especially in matters pertaining to metzius, which requires a knowledge of madda that many are unfortunately lacking, I don't know that this Bavli and Yerushalmi are discussing any more than setting the moadim, where a unity of religious calendar of when Yom Tov is at stake, and a fracturing will create two different communities that cannot interact. But differing piskei halacha have always been in place.

And further than that, we have the precedent of the Amoraim of Bavel and Eretz Yisrael. There were Sages in both places, and yet the Sages in Bavel quite often paskened against the shittot of the Sages in Eretz Yisrael.

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