Monthly Archives: April 2009

Quote: The Making of Halacha

"The history of Halacha is not only created by the great Halachic authorities who issue rulings.  It is also created by alert lay individuals who pose the questions to Poskim.  The Halacha continues to be enriched by people who earnestly seek to abide by Halacha in all circumstances and Poskim who grapple with the challenging issues that continually arise." ~ Rabbi Chaim Jachter


This quote, although simple is actually quite mind blowing. We always place our focus on the great poskim, the talmidai chachamim who write the teshuvot, what about a bit of recognition to the simple man who cares enough to ask the question in the first place? Something to reflect and ponder on….

Learning and Teaching the Seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach

Regarding the Nochri's obligation to learn and to fulfill the seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach and his liability if he does not do so, about which we responded in a previous discussion, there is a remarkable Chidush in "His'orerus ha'Teshuvah" of Rebbi Shimon Sofer (Budapest, published between 1923 and 1934; vol. 4, Yoreh De'ah #186). He writes as follows (translation):

"He is 'Karov l'Mezid,' considered to have sinned intentionally, since he should have learned and he did not learn, as the Rambam writes. In my humble opinion, this applies only when we are living in our land and we
have governing control, and all those who live among us are either Gerei Toshavim (who accepted upon themselves the seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach), or they are Nochrim whom we must put to death, as the Rambam writes
(Hilchos Melachim 8:10). Consequently, the Nochri who transgresses any of the seven Mitzvos should have learned from what he saw around him — all of the other Nochrim acting as Gerei Toshavim and observing the seven Mitzvos.

That Nochri certainly knows how the other Nochrim around him are conducting themselves as he hears and sees them himself, and thus he certainly should have learned from them.

However, now, when we are in exile, the Nochri [who transgresses the seven Mitzvos] has not heard nor has he seen nor does he know anything about the seven Mitzvos saw. Hence, from where should he have learned about the seven
Mitzvos and about his obligation to observe them, if he has never heard of them? Even though we are not permitted to cause him to transgress them because of 'Mipnei Iver,' nevertheless he is an absolute Shogeg. Proof to
this can be found in the Rambam who writes (in Hilchos Mamrim 3:3) that those Karaites who were raised by their fathers in a way of falsehood, even though they hear afterwards about the laws of the Jewish nation, they are considered as though they sin against their will (Anusim) and they have the status of 'a baby who was taken captive among the Nochrim….' Further proof to this can be found in the Ra'avad and Kesef Mishnah (in Hilchos Avodah Zarah 10:6).

With regard to forming free-loan societies for the Nochrim, it can be said that this is a Mitzvah and there is reward for doing so, and that these things should be done because of the Kidush Hashem involved and the recognition of the greatness of the faith of the Jews who do good for all. Indeed, the verse says, 'Hashem is good to all and His mercy is upon all of His creations' (Tehilim 145:9), and it says, 'Her (the Torah's) ways are ways of pleasantness, and her paths are of peace' (Mishlei 3:17)."


Other sources:


Must read blog, My Random Diatribes (Michael Makovi’s random thoughts)

There is a young man Michael Makovi (age 22), a talmid in Yeshivas Machon Meir who recently began blogging. He has many thoughtful comments and great scholarly insight that should be publicised to the broader public. Please follow along, his blog can be found here .

In particular see his post on Saving Gentiles on the Shabbat, it is the most thorough collection of sources on this topic I have seen to date.



On the meaning of meaning

The Perfection Paradox

I stumbled upon the following shiurim on YUTorah.

The speaker is Rabbi David Aaron of the Isralight Institute. I am quite impressed and highly recommend them. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.