Sunday, July 19, 2015

For Your "Three Weeks" Entertainment: A Dialog with a Rabbi

ג' לחודש החמישי תשע"ה

I recently engaged in the following back-and-forth on a Facebook thread. My concluding thoughts on this experience follow the transcribed dialog.

Friend: O No! I forgot to cut my hair again.... ‪#‎3Weeks‬ 
10ag: So? Cut it now. The Ramba"m says it's OK.

10ag: Nope. No mention of the 3 Weeks... 
רמב"ם, משנה תורה, הלכות תענייות ה,ו
ו משייכנס אב, ממעטין בשמחה. ושבת שחל תשעה באב להיות בתוכה, אסור לספר ולכבס וללבוש כלי מגוהץ, אפילו כלי פשתן, עד שיעבור התענית; ואפילו לכבס ולהניח לאחר התענית, אסור. וכבר נהגו ישראל, שלא לאכול בשר בשבת זו, ולא ייכנסו למרחץ, עד שיעבור התענית; ויש מקומות שנהגו לבטל השחיטה מראש החודש, עד התענית.
Ramba"m, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Fasts, 5:6One who enters the month of Av lessens in happiness. And the week in which Tisha b'Av falls, it is forbidden to cut ones hair, to wash clothing, and to dress in ironed garments, even linen ones (undergarments), until after the fast passes; and it is even forbidden to wash clothes and put them aside for after the fast. And Israel has already had the custom of not eating meat during this week, and going to the bathhouse, until the fast has passed; and there are places which have the custom to stop shehitah (slaughter for meat) from the first of Av. 
Beth HaMiqdash HaSheni
Illustration of the Second Temple
Rabbi: Friend is a vus-vus, he doesn't follow strange minhagim from the east  
10ag: "Vus-vus" and "Dossi" and the like are offensive terms. How can minhagim older than yours be "strange?"  
Rabbi: "Older"? Seems to me they're roughly the same age.  
10ag: How so?  
Rabbi: Rashi was the same generation as Rambam and he kept minhag Ashkenaz, cause btw, he was Ashkenazi. Do we really have to demonstrate that Ashkenzai minhagim have just as great authority and longevity as do Sfardi? Spare us...  
10ag: 1. I would be interested in seeing the source that Rashi kept customs associated with the 3 weeks, which are kept today, or even close. 
2. The Ro"sh and Ba'al HaTurim were Askenazim extraordinaire. Did they keep such customs? 
3. Of all people, I would not have expected you to use "Sfardi" to mean non-Ashkenazi. If you didn't mean this, then you left out a lot of other Jews. 
4. Although the Ramba"m was from Spain, it is well known that his work has had great influence on other Jews, such as Teimanim
Rabbi: 1-2) Habub, where did the custom come from if not from Rashi and the Ashekenazi Rishonim? Someone made it up out of thin air? 
Rabbi: 3-4) It's well known that Rambam's psak is based upon Rif, with a few exceptions and that he is considered authoritative among Sfardim, or if you will, "Eidot haMizrach." If you want to include other Jews such as Teimanim, that's fine, but Rambam's main influence was over "Eidot Hamizrach."  
10ag: You may have missed my point. There are more Jews in the world than Ashkenazim and Sepharadim
Rabbi: So what?  
10ag: To use Sepharadi to mean "non-Ashkenazi," is not only inaccurate, but completely leaves out many Jews from a Klal Yisrael with only "Sepharadim" and "Ashkenazim."  
Rabbi: Like I said, "so what?" Rambam poskins for Sfardim, for Eidot Hamizrach. What's your point?  
For all you Rambam fans, you should know that the Chida (R' Chaim David Azoulai) says in Avodat Hakodesh, in the customs/laws of chodesh Tammuz, "Be very careful during the days of Beyn Hameitzarim to minimize laughter, and pleasure and to say Tikun Chatzot." That's BEFORE hodesh Av, wise guys...  
Hauling away the Temple vessels to Rome after the Second Temple's destruction.
10ag: Um,...1. Not sure where the smarmy comments like "spare us" and "wise guys" are coming from, especially in public, and from a rabbi. 
2. I'm posing some legitimate questions, none of which have been answered with halakhic sources. Asking if something come out of thin air is not only not a halakhic response, but also inductive reasoning,...very poor inductive reasoning.  
Rabbi: What's your problem, "spare us" and "wise guys" is some kind of nivul peh? It's a straightforward response to guys who are making offhand remarks just because you can't find something in halacha, therefore dismissing it as if it has no source. That's called a "wise guy." You are correct that it is hard to find where the early rishonim kept the entire three weeks. It's not mentioned in the Tur. But it is brought in Shulchan Aruch, so I would not draw any conclusions from the fact that it's not in the Tur. Just be patient and keep looking. And btw I already pointed out that it's not straighforward that Rambam only held from Rosh HOdesh Av. Take a look at the source that I brought from the Chidah...
missed word 
10ag: nivul peh? It definitely [could] be conceived that way, especially in e-communication and and without emoicons or < >'s or something else to indicate kewana? 
Off handed remarks? One who asks a halakhic question is not entitled to a halakhic response? 
If something's not in halakha, then yeah, that's a problem, not satisfied by "da'as torah" (how it's misused today) or "Rabbi so and so said so, " or the like. These are not halakhic responses. 
Sorry, but I guess I missed something. How did you point out that it's not straighforward that Rambam only held from Rosh Hodesh Av? (There are hints to this, but explicitly he relates to the week in which 9 b'Av falls.) How does the Chidah support this? You're the one trying to show that I'm mistaken or that I've somehow missed the boat. I'm not the one who has to look anything up. 
Rabbi: Well, if you want to claim that there is no source for keeping the three weeks from 17 b'Tammuz, then you better be willing to support it. Rambam by himself is not sufficient. And if what you want to do is indicate that he is influential for a certain group of people, such as Eidot Hamizrach and others then the Chidah is also very influential and a later posek for the same population. And he poskins that bein hametzarim starts from 17 b'Tammuz.
10ag: I'm not trying to force my customs on anyone. All I was saying is that the Ramba"m does not mention the three weeks. That's it. 
Rabbi: If that were truly the case, you would have mentioned "According to the Rambam." You didn't - you just wrote, "Nope no mention of the 3 weeks," as if there is no need to consider it. So I pointed out that may or may not be true acc to Rambam and acc to the Sfardi custom, but there happen to be other poskim and other customs. That's all...for a friend of [name of our mutual friend] you seem to be over-sensitive to terms like "vus-vus" and "wise guy." Anyone who comments on [name of our mutual friend]'s threads knows that a lot of terms get thrown around loosely. Anyway, thanks for pointing out something interesting - that it's hard to find the source for the three weeks in the Ashkenzai tradition. But I guarantee you that it just needs more research. Magen Avraham already mentions it so it comes from somewhere...
Esser Agaroth (2¢Conclusion:
I am posting this not for the purposes of offending those who hold to mourning customs during the three week period between 17 b'Tammuz and 9 b'Av. but rather to provide an example of reasoning, which is not in the least bit reasonable, yet employed by rabbis, all of the time.

So much of what he says is irrelevant to a halakhic (Jewish legal) discussion.

The rabbi misses the point of the additions made by later posqim. However, I was not clear about this myself in my inquiries. He never answered the age question. The Magen Avraham lived 400 years after the Ramba"m. The Hid"a? Over 500 years.

He never answered the age question. The Magen Avraham lived 400 years after the Ramba"m. The Hid"a? Over 500 years.

"Had to come from somewhere?"

What kind of response is that?

I never even questioned the existence of these customs, during the "Three Weeks."

He never provided a source that Rashi kept such customs during "Three Weeks."

In face, he did not provide any reasonable explanation at all, regarding their development.

In all fairness to this rabbi, this an off the cuff conversation, sources not in front of him. But, still, how about at least a "I need to look into it" response?

He also never provided a satisfactory answer regarding his [at the very least] imprecise use of the term Sepharadi.

His end of the dialog just seems to be the same ol' boring, galuth (exile) oriented responses to me.

The only criticism I could possibly accept from this rabbi was that I neglected to add the phrase "According to the Rambam." So, I owned up it.

For more information on customs related to the period of the "Three Weeks," the "Nine Days," and the Fast of the Ninth of Av, see Machon Shilo's A Brief Guide to the Three Weeks and the Nine Days.

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