For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


TORAH SHEBALPEH------how it works

Well, there's nothing nonsensical or even strange about Torah shebal peh.

First, when the Midrash says something like the mountains argued, it doesn't mean the mountains literally, and no, it's not merely a teaching tool either. It means that the "sar" of the mountains were fighting with each other. A "sar" is the angel designated to maintain the mountain. Everything in this world, every blade of grass, every stone, every animal, every whatever, has a "sar". They are the media through which Hashem affects the world. Whenever a Medrash talks about inanimate objects talking, it means the "sar" and not the object itself.

Re: Machlokes. When doctors argue over the interpretation of an x-ray it's not the same as when sages argue over the interpretation of the Halachah.

The x-ray has one actual meaning. The doctors argue, each one saying that he is the one who knows that one meaning. The doctors' understanding of the x-ray does not contribute to the meaning of the x-ray, it merely reveals it.

But Halachah is different. There is no intrinsic proper Halachah -- the proper Halachah is created by the sages. The Ritva in Eruvin explains: On Har Sinai, G-d gave to Moses every possible legitimate Halachic opinion on every issue (shivim panim l'kan u'likan). Then Hashem gave a formula to determine what the actual Halachic practice should be. Then Hashem said, To determine the actual Halachic practice, let the rabbis decide according to their knowledge which of these possibilities they believe sit should be.

Whatever they decide, that will be the Halachah.

So the Halachah depends on what the rabbis decide based on the Halachic process that we follow. This includes majority rules, halchah k'basrai, etc.

The reason Hashem did this is because He wanted the Halachah - the Torah - to be part of us literally, not merely stuff that we know from outside. Creating a Halachah internally imparts much more holiness - the amount that Hashem decided is proper - than does merely knowing an externally created Halachah.

So all opinions of the sages are equally holy, since they were all given on Har Sinai. The bottom line Halachah is merely what we happen to be obligated to follow. It does not mean the other opinions are "wrong".

Posted - 08 January 2001 17:19


How does eilu veilu work when the argument is about a specific event that transpired. I.e. two amoraim are arguing about what took place. How can they both be right. Interestingly the gemarah says eilu veilu specifically in this case in gitten.


There, it means both opinions are torah. It does not mean they are both true. Its like a "hava aminah" of the gemorah - it is holy and considered Torah, but it is not correct.

No comments: