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Classic Brisker Toirahs That Do Not Fit Torath Eretz Yisrael, Part 2

June 5, 2015

(Part 1 here)

“Accepting the stringency during the three weeks (as does the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Lichtenstein) does not necessarily require doing so regarding sefira, which, as we have seen, demands a less strict standard of mourning. According to Rav Lichtenstein (and his father-in-law, Rav Soloveitchik z”tl), the mourning of sefira parallels that observed for twelve months after the loss of a parent. (The prohibitions applicable during sefira – weddings, haircuts and festive celebrations – parallel the activities forbidden during the twelve-month period after a parent’s death.)”

From here.
They usually extend this idea, saying that the mourning of the Nine Days corresponds to that of the first month of mourning for any of the close relatives, the “shloshim”, and the Day of Tisha B’av itself has a level of mourning similar to that of Shiva for a relative.

Our Sages and many Roshonim including Maimonides, did not observe any of the customs we associate with Sefira, nor of the “Three Weeks” between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, and the observances in Av were much more limited in both scope and time. Less activities were prohibited, and whatever was prohibited was usually only on “shavua she hal bo,” the weekdays leading up to the 9th of Av, at most five days. The Brisker comparison, and therefore any attempt to extrapolate halacha applicable to Sefira from the precedent of the year of mourning for a parent, is based on coincidence, specifically the convergent evolution of the stricter and stricter practices related to Sefira. Correlation does not mean causation, nor does it imply purpose, nor intention.

The other day, a local rav stood in the synagogue and said that he had heard an exchange in the name of Rabbi Uri Sherki: A congregant wanted to know why the new holidays of Independence Day and Jerusalem Day are treated like weekdays. Wouldn’t it be more becoming for us to treat these holidays like we do our Sabbaths and festivals, by desisting from work? Rabbi Sherki answered that the more the Jewish people took part in making the day what it is, the less labor is forbidden on that day. Thus, because God alone created the universe, the Sabbth has the most prohibitons, and because we sancitify the months, the biblical festivals have less prohibited, and the later holidays, which we created, have no prohibitions. This sounds nice, but does not, for example, explain Yom Kippur. There is a correlation, but it does not necessarily mean anything. We can just as well say that the later a day showed up in history, the less labor is forbidden on it. This also explains the festivals, sabbaths, and post-biblical holidays. Or, heaven forbid, we could suggest that the higher the numerological value of a holiday’s name, the more that is forbidden thereon.

The truth is that all the customs relating to Sefira and the vast majority relating to the Three Weeks and Nine Days are of later vintage, and are not based on the teachings of our sages, nor were they designed with purpose. Therefore, they are not recorded in the Mishenh Torah, nor can they be analyzed in a talmudic fashion because they were never ordained in a methodical matter. The fact that a body of practices during the Sefira seems to parallel a body of practices observed during the year of mourning over a parent is therefore coincidental.

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From → logic, original

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