Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Covering One's Succah With the Arba Minim? pt ii

As a followup to my previous post, Berel Friedman left another excellent comment there:
The Samaritan halachah is actually an opinion that is recorded in Chazal. R' Yehudah (in Sifra Emor and Bavli Sukkah 36b) holds that the schach can only be from the 4 minim, although his stated reason is far from a literalist reading.
Indeed, that is what we find in Sukkah 36b-37a:

דתניא (ויקרא כג) בסוכות תשבו סוכה של כל דבר דברי ר"מ ר' יהודה אומר אין סוכה נוהגת אלא בד' מינים שבלולב והדין נותן ומה לולב שאין נוהג בלילות כבימים אינו נוהג אלא בארבעת מינין סוכה שנוהגת בלילות כבימים אינו דין שלא תהא אלא בארבעת מינין אמרו לו כל דין שאתה דן תחלתו להחמיר וסופו להקל אינו דין
לא מצא ארבעת מינין יהא יושב ובטל והתורה אמרה בסוכות תשבו שבעת ימים סוכה של כל דבר וכן בעזרא אומר (נחמיה ח) צאו ההר והביאו עלי זית ועלי עץ שמן ועלי הדס ועלי תמרים ועלי עץ עבות <ועשו> [לעשות] סוכות ככתוב
{The previous is also found in the Sifra. The gemara continues:}
ורבי יהודה בר הני לדפנות עלי הדס ועלי תמרים ועלי עץ עבות לסכך
ותנן מסככין בנסרין ד"ר יהודה אלמא סיב ועיקרא דדיקלא מינא דלולבא הוא ש"מ ומי אמר ר' יהודה ארבעת מינין אין מידי אחרינא לא והתניא סיככה בנסרים של ארז שיש בהן ד' טפחים ד"ה פסולה אין בהן ד' טפחים רבי מאיר פוסל ורבי יהודה מכשיר ומודה רבי מאיר שאם יש בין נסר לנסר כמלא נסר שמניח פסל ביניהן וכשירה
מאי ארז הדס כדרבה בר רב הונא דאמר רבה בר רב הונא אמרי בי רב עשרה מיני ארזים הן שנא' (ישעיהו מא) אתן במדבר ארז שטה והדס וגו':

This is thus clearly presented as a special derasha that Rabbi Yehuda is making, rather than a derasha of velakachtem lachem. The Samaritans, as far as I understand (from the article, and from this book), only use it for sechach. Rabbi Yehuda clearly holds that there is a separate mitzvah of taking the lulav, as there are various statements from him about the mitzvah's precise parameters.

They also bring in the pasuk in Nechemiah, and interpret it in the various ways. Namely that some of the materials were specifically for the sechach, and some specifically for the walls. Because after all, that pasuk clearly lists items aside from the 4 minim.

See also Tosafot, Succah 36b, d"h Rabbi Yehuda Omer, about whether or not Rabbi Yehuda derives the materials for schach from the pasuk of be`aspecha migarnecha umiyikvecha, another thing touched upon in the previous post.

Finally, this is something that I have said in the past. Quite often, we see Chazal prove things via derashot, but one can turn around and argue that this can actually be read into the literal text of the Torah, on a peshat level. If so, we might be able to argue that these derashot are asmachta, or else a binding formal method of deriving halachot, but they also of course reflect authorial intent in a way manifest on the peshat level, or at least in one plausible reading on a peshat level. This might be the case here as well, where velakachtem lachem is taken as taking the materials for the Succah (as might be understood from Nechemiah), aside from the taking of the lulav bundle. Even though Rabbi Yehuda has another basis for the law, and even though the halachic conversation in Sifra and in the gemara operates on that other basis.

7 comments:

josh L said...

The opinion you give as that of the Samaritans was also that of the Karaites - see Ibn Ezra on Emor and in Nemoy's Karaite Anthology.

Anonymous said...

Shalom sir,

I see that in this post you at least refrained from the absurd claim that the Peshat of the pasuq aligns with the Rabbinic manner of waving the bundle.

They also bring in the pasuk in Nechemiah, and interpret it in the various ways. Namely that some of the materials were specifically for the sechach, and some specifically for the walls. Because after all, that pasuk clearly lists items aside from the 4 minim.

Comment:
Where, pray tell, is the Toraic or Tanakh-ic asmachta for using those items that were ostensibly aside from the Arba`at ha-Minim for making the Sukkah's walls? There is none.


Sincerely,
a caring Jew

joshwaxman said...

wow, talk about arrogance, and projecting it on to others. there is a way of speaking, and this is not obviated by signing it "a caring Jew" or prefacing it with "dear Sir."

"Where, pray tell"
לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב in Nechemiah 8. What, you are telling me that you cling to the Rabbinic interpretation that Succot must mean sechach? How "absurd" of you. ;) It means *booths*. Or can be interpreted as such.

Calm down.

At any rate, what I was presenting here was *one* historical interpretation of the relevant pesukim. And this is a series, presenting various interesting points on this topic. Why not sit back and enjoy them?

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Shalom lekha.

You know... it's funny you'd complain about a poster exhibiting politeness as in writing "dear sir". Seems like no manner of communication from dissenters is good enough to you. My advice to you is to quit trying to pinpoint negativity in others' writing.

signing it "a caring Jew"

I'd suggest you tell that to ultra-Orthodox Rabbanites who occasionally appear at my home site, signing off their posts as "Jew" etc.

>Where, pray tell, is the Toraic or Tanakh-ic asmachta for using those items that were ostensibly aside from the Arba`at ha-Minim for making the Sukkah's walls? There is none.

You replied:
לַעֲשֹׂת סֻכֹּת, כַּכָּתוּב in Nechemiah 8. What, you are telling me that you cling to the Rabbinic interpretation that Succot must mean sechach? How "absurd" of you. ;) It means *booths*. Or can be interpreted as such.

Comment:
I don't care about Rabbinic interpretations per se; I pursue the plain meaning.
Nowhere is there an indication from this text's plain meaning that those "separate" species were meant for constructing the Sukka's walls alone.
I can, however, construe that both the 4 Minim and the "separate" Minim were meant for constructing both the walls and roof.


~ A caring Jew

joshwaxman said...

I answered on the other post as well, btw. To answer this.

a) my complaint is (1) in your insistence on remaining anonymous while writing like a jerk (see my request about leaving your comment, immediately above the comment box), while (2) giving a pretense of not being a jerk, by using greetings like "Shalom lecha." Many people don't realize they are being jerks, so I try to point it out as soon as possible.

b) What is your home site? You know who I am. (Or think you do.) Isn't it fair to open yourself. See Prof Soleveitchik's recent letter published on the Seforim blog. What is your home site? Do I leave comments there, that you are complaining to me? Why do you lump me together with them? This seems to be one of the (probably many) chips on your shoulder.

I don't care about Rabbinic interpretations per se; I pursue the plain meaning.
And my interest is not to get into a stupid *heated* argument between Pharisees and Karaites.

Many *pashtanim* also cared about the plain meaning. Heck, many *Karaites* also cared about the plain meaning. And guess what? They argued with one another as to what the plain meaning is!

Sure, you can say, probably correctly, that there is only one *correct* peshat. Yes, and different people can attempt to reach it.

Nowhere is there an indication from this text's plain meaning that those "separate" species were meant for constructing the Sukka's walls alone.
True. However, this verse *can* be construed as providing a listing for all the building materials that they Israelites fetched in the time of Nechemiah.

If Nach is not a basis for establishing law, and was not intended as such (the pasuk there says "kakatuv") and both those Israelites and other Israelites read the verses in Torah as the basis, then *one* possibility is that the Torah's list was not a closed list, but just a list of examples. *Another* possibility is that the Torah's list was a comprehensive list of required materials for what defines the *roof*, and the actions described in Nechemiah supplied a list of *all* building materials that they historically used at that time. And that therefore the word, used centuries apart, and one in a legal context and one in a narrative, have slightly different shades of meaning. And that this accounts for the disparity.

Is there definitive proof the latter way? No, and it is not even the accepted Pharisaic interpretation. But it is *one*, *possible* interpretation of the verse on the level of peshat. Is there definitive proof the former way? No, but it is *one*, *possible* interpretation of the verse on the level of peshat.

And not always is there enough info in the verses to choose one over the other. You cannot take the fact that one cannot prove X that X is not a *possible* interpretation, and can be read into the relevant verses. And this on the level of peshat.

BTW, the Samaritans, it would seem, restrict their interpretation of it to mean only the roof, for they do not decorate the walls with local produce.

(As an interesting thought experiment, though I am creating it off the cuff, so it might not be so good at first draft. Let say 5000 years from now, all that survived were excerpts from a halacha book such as Shulchan Aruch which talk about "taking" the 4 species and halachic restrictions for valid sechach; and a news article detailing how Jews in Jerusalem used large palm fronds to construct it; or rather, that they use large palm fronds and canvas. Then, someone 5000 years later tries to reconstruct Rabbinic practice on the basis of these descriptions. Could such a scholar come to the conclusion that palm fronds must be used for the walls? (Especially if reference is found to the idea of maamid!) How about that canvas is acceptable as a roof? Would these be peshat interpretations? Would they be correct? Would it be possible to prove the correct interpretation?)

KT,
Josh

joshwaxman said...

I would add that with the signature of "a caring Jew" you are indeed pseudonymous rather than anonymous, assuming you consistently stick with that signature. And that is good. By complaint was not about the "Jew" part of it, but the "caring" part of it, together with other expressions of politeness at the beginning, when contrasted with some of the rather impolite language in the body, such as "at *least* you refrained from the *absurd* claim" in the comment in this post, and in the other post "poignantly feeble and pathetic attempt," "the childish attitude," and so on. These are loaded terms, and deliberately so. What did I do to you that you feel the need to act like a jerk? And if acting like a jerk, don't pretend that you are not.

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

wow a real Karaite!!
and I thought they only exsisted in gemara and gaza

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