Anything about JUDAISM
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MODERATOR Posted - 08 October 2000 23:04
There is a Halachah that says you must have the right Hashkofos. “Lo sosuru acharei levavchem”, You may not follow your heart, meaning, you may not believe “meenus” (Apikursos). Th Mishna Brura rules (his source is Sefer Hachinuch almost word for word, but without attribution) Apikursos includes any opinion that is contrary to Daas Torah.

Meaning, even if you follow all Halachos, if you have an opinion that conflicts with that of the Torah, you violate this laav.

Halachic example: Responsa Divrei Chaim YD 105. The case was a rebbi in a cheder who expressed his opinion to his class that the commentary “Ohr Hachaim” on chumash was a great commentary, but it was not written with Ruach HaKodesh. This statement created a tremendous controversy, and they turned to the Divrei Chaim for a ruling.

After explaining that he cannot rule on a specific incident without hearing both sides of the story, he writes that theoretically, if someone says such a thing, since it is clear that Chazal disagree, he would be guilty of Apikursus.

So let’s say you’re a vegetarian. There is no Halachah that says you have to eat meat (at least not on the weekdays). But if the reason you don’t eat meat is because you believe shechitah is cruelty to animals and therefore wrong, you are guilty of Apikursos, since the Torah clearly disagrees.

Two people can do the same act – here, refraining from eating meat – but one is a spiritual criminal and the other innocent, because of the attitude with which the action was taken.

Or let’s say you are in favor of women’s torah education. The Chofetz Chaim was, too, for our times. But if you feel that women’s education is an advancement for women’s rights, essentially an improvement in the treatment of women over what we have been accustomed to in the past generations, when we did not teach Torah to women – and the Chofetz Chaim did not feel that way - you are guilty of Apikursus, since your belief collides with that of the Torah’s.

If someone accepts ideas that are not in accordance with the Torah, in other words, Hashkofos, they violate this issur

There are different levels of Apikursos. Worst-case scenario, someone can become a full-fledged Apikores, which Halachicly is considered worse than in idol worshipper. Such a person is treated Halachicly like a non-Jew, yet retains the halachic obligations of all Jews. A full-fledged Apikores is the absolute bottom on the spiritual food chain.

Edited by - admindealing on 10/11/2000 5:29:30 PM

Renée Posted - 11 October 2000 20:13
Will you explain to me exactly what an Apikores is? What are the different levels of Apikursos? I was under the impression that it is better for a person to perform the mitvot for the wrong reason than it is for him to ignore them all together. How then could this place him at the "absolute bottom on the spiritual food chain"?
MODERATOR Posted - 11 October 2000 23:00
According to the Rambam, “Apikores” comes from the root “hefker” meaning to devalue or unbind. The Apikores devalues the Torah and its scholars. Another interpretation: the apikores acts unbound to the Torah (Bartenura).

The classic Apikores is someone who denies the concept of prophecy in general, or the prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu specifically, or who claims that Hashem does not know everything that happens on earth (Rambam Teshuva 3:8). Other various types of heretics are included in Apikores according to other Rishonim. Examples include someone who denies the coming of Moshiach, someone who purposely twists the meaning of the Torah, someone who interprets the mitzvos figuratively, someone who blatantly violates the Torah, someone who does not respect the Yomim Tovim, and other assorted types of anti-Torah behaviors. See the meforshim on the Mishna Sanhedrim 90a for details.

But there are others who are considered as bad as an Apikores, and we call those Apikorsim too. Those are people who deny the truth of the Torah, including the Oral Torah (i.e. the Mishna, gemora, etc.), people who commit sins not for any worldly gain but rather they don’t care about the fact that it is a sin or don’t consider it a sin. (see Rambam Commentary on Mishna Chulin 1:2 and Avodah Zarah 2:5, Laws of Murderers 4:10, and meforshim ad loc).

Apikorsim are considered worse than idol worshippers, and although they are still obligated in all Mitzvos, they lose all privileges and qualifications that Jews have, and are considered Halachicly like non-Jews regarding all Halachos, such as shchitah, returning lost items, etc. They have no share in Olam Habah (Mishna Sanhedrim 90a) and when they die their relatives do not mourn for them (Rambam Laws of Mourning 1:10). We are actually allowed to indirectly cause their death (Avodah Zarah 26a).

Rav Chaim Soloveichik ZT”L (quoted in Kovetz Maamarim by R. Elchonon Wasserman) said The reason for an Apikores losing his share in the World to Come is not a punishment, but rather it is not possible to be resurrected without the merit of beliefe (emunah). Therefore, even if someone was never taught Torah (tonik shnishbah) he still does not merit the world to come, because although he is not punished for his not being a believer, he also cannot get credit for believing.

According to the Chazon Ish, the level of Apikores in the Gemora, where the Halachah allows us to cause his death, does not apply nowadays, since today we do not see open miracles on the same level that we used to, a denier of the Torah is not guilty to the extent that one may kill him. On the contrary, we should try to be mekarev them and cause them to do teshuva (YD 13).

The Satmar Rav ZT”L writes that an Apikores sins because he does not believe, but if someone convinces himself that he does not believe because he will otherwise feel guilty about sinning, “perhaps” he is not what Chazal meant by Apikores (Divrei Yoel Sukkah).

If a person disagrees with any of the Torah’s opinions at all (Daas Torah) he is guilty of Apikursus (Sefer Hachinuch, lo sasuru acharei levavcham, Mishna Brura Biur Halachah 1), and violates a prohibition of lo sasuru acharei levavchem. Though one would not consider him a full fledged Apikores regarding all of the above unless he either purposely disagreed with the Torah, meaning he knows the Torah believes one way and disagrees, or denies one of the Fundamentals of Judaism, even unwittingly (see Kovetz Maamarim above). The Chazon Ish once wrote about a statement in the Sefer Binah L’Itim that he considered Apikursus, “Even though the author was a Yorei Shamayim, he worshipped Apikursus unwittingly (b’shogeg)”.

The Sefer HaIkarrim (I) writes that if a person, through Torah scholarship and honest and objective Torah reasoning, concludes something different than the truth, he would not be considered an Apikores, such as Rabbi Hillel in the Gemora, who holds that Moshiach is not coming (we don’t rule like him, obviously). An honest mistake on the level of honesty and Torah objectivity of Rabbi Hillel would not qualify one as Apikores, even if badly mistaken.

So the status of Apikores depends on: (a) what you deny and (b) why you deny it.

There were rabbis who, because of their Hashkafos, were not accepted in various circles, as their beliefs were considered by others to be full fledged Apikorsus.

Re: Doing a Mitzvah for the wrong reasons:

While it is true that you get credit for a Mitzvah regardless of the motive for performing it, that is only if you believe it is a Mitzvah that you are doing.

So if I, let’s say, send away the mother bird before taking the eggs because I am on a class trip in the park and my Rebbe made me do so, I still get a Mitzvah. In this case, I know it is a Mitzvah of the Torah, I would just not be sufficiently motivated to perform it without my Rebbe bothering me.

Bit if I don’t believe in Judaism, but rather the Bird God, and I send away the mother bird not because it is a Mitzvah from Hashem but rather a command of the Bird People from Planet Bird that upon performance will usher in the Second Coming of the Bird God, then I do not get a Mitzvah. This is because I do not even think of the act of sending the bird away as a Mitzvah to begin with.

Same thing if I do a Mitzvah in my sleep. It’s the motions of a Mitzvah, but it’s not a Mitzvah.

Same thing if I am an atheist. If I don’t believe in a Commander then I do not believe that my act is a Mitzvah (commandment).

There are unacceptable deviations from proper Hashkafa, and if the deviation is sufficiently great, the person is no longer practicing Judaism but another religion. If someone believes that G-d is a pot-bellied gold statue, or He impregnated a married woman and had a child (c”v), then he not only has a Hashkafic error, but he is practicing another religion. And if he does a Mitzvah, he is not doing a Mitzvah because G-d said so, but rather because of some imaginary being who he thinks is G-d said so. His god is not G-d. And his Mitzvah is not a Mitzvah.

Edited by - admindealing on 10/17/2000 4:08:11 PM

Ani Yehudi Posted - 08 October 2001 19:50
Are the Aryeh Kaplan anthologies good books for Hashkafah?
BinaDaya Posted - 11 October 2001 23:46
AniYehudi, Yes.
MODERATOR Posted - 17 October 2001 23:27
Yes, they are. But it depends what you are looking for. And it depends which book (he also translated Kabbalah works into english, which are not for you). "Hashkafa" is a very broad term. Can you be a bit more specific?
e Posted - 18 October 2001 2:25
i just read rabbi aryeh kaplans book if you were G-d. his book are excellent and very clear.
BinaDaya Posted - 22 October 2001 22:19
What makes something Daas Torah? Presumably, a statement made by a Gadol BaTorah would be Daas Torah. But how do we determine who is a Gadol BaTorah? If our Gedolim hold that _______ was not reliable to speak Daas Torah, while the followers of _______ hold that those who dicredited their leader are the ones who are not reliable, how is the simple ben-Torah, without being able to involve himself in years worth of complicated and relatively sophisticated arguments supposed to KNOW, beyond any doubt, who is the correct one to follow?? -Thank you.
MODERATOR Posted - 25 October 2001 0:38
The trick here is to make an objective decision. This includes whether you are determining on your own if someone is a godol, or even if you want to determine who is a maven on who is a godol so you will have someone from whom to take direction.

A godol is someone whose Torah scholarship and righteousness is exceptional among the generation. Of course, he has to follow the derech of our previous Gedolim, the Mesorah of Klall Yisroel as well. That is pretty much unanimously the derech of the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Chaim Brisker, and their great contemporaries.

It does not include the following criteria:

(a) Who the Yated decides is a godol.
(b) Whos the people who make "gedolim cards" decide who is a godol.
(c) Who has a lot of followers.
(d) Who is a popular and talented speaker.
(e) Who preaches policies that you agree with.

If you want to know if someone is a godol, think:

Is his scholarship level exceptional in the generation? Does his knowledge span all areas of Torah - shas poskim, halachah and hashkafa. And is his knowledge deep and sharp. Can he answer the difficult questions in Torah better than his contemporaries? Are his chidushim exceptionally sharp and sure? Can he decipher Torah diffiulties in an exceptional manner?

Then, what about his Tzidkus? Is he an exceptional Tzadik? If so, in what measurable way?

If he wouldnt be a rosh yeshiva or a rav, but a yeshiva guy learning in the Lakewood Kollel, would people look at him as such a great Tzadik and Talmid Chacham as theny do now? Or is it just cuz of his position that people inflate his status?

Does he violate the Torah? Does he follow a Rebbi of his? Does he have a "mesorah" going back to the previous generations whose derech he is following? Do other people of the above caliber hold he is a godol?

All of us, whether we admit it or not, all decide on our own who is a godol, of what criteria we are going to use to determine that. We ALL have our criteria that we decided on our own to use (even if we decide that we cant know who is a godol, we decide who will will believe when they say it). The trick is to use proper criteria.

It is also important for the person to be wise and sharp. It is definitely possible for a Godol to be uninformed, misinformed, or underinformed. The Satmar Rebbe ZT"L used to say that a Godol BaTorah can be naive as well.

The most we can do is to try our best. More than that, Hashem does not require from us. The above criteria are the ones to use. The trick is not to have Hashem tell us we should have put more effort into the decision.

danny Posted - 26 October 2001 21:08
<What makes something Daas Torah? Presumably, a statement made by a Gadol BaTorah would be Daas Torah. But how do we determine who is a Gadol BaTorah? If our Gedolim hold that _______ was not reliable to speak Daas Torah, while the followers of _______ hold that those who dicredited their leader are the ones who are not reliable, how is the simple ben-Torah, without being able to involve himself in years worth of complicated and relatively sophisticated arguments supposed to KNOW, beyond any doubt, who is the correct one to follow?? >
Daas Torah is any teaching which is consistent with Torah, the Oral Law and the writings of the Sages. Most Jews who have a basic knowledge of Torah can determine if something is daas Torah or not. Unfortunately there are groups that believe that only what their Rebbe says is daas Torah and anything everyone else says is not.


Beautman Posted - 02 November 2001 0:50
I thought "Apikores" is from Epicurus, the Greek who's philosophy was that one should pursue pleasure above all?

>>>According to the Rambam, “Apikores” comes from the root “hefker” meaning to devalue or unbind.<<<<<

MODERATOR Posted - 05 November 2001 22:20
The Rambam says differently.
Daniel Darwin Posted - 27 August 2002 20:58
I don't understand the reasoning behind your quotation from the Divrei Yoel who holds that one who denies that the Ohr HaChaim was written with Ruach HaKodesh is guilty of heresy (apikorsus).
There is a Chassam Sofer that contends with the opinion of R' Yiztchak of Berditchev who believes that Nusach Sephard is superior to all other nusachim and is the nusach for those who do not know their Sheivet (tribe). The Chassam Sofer writes that he doesn't have the sefer of this acharon in front of him, that he bases everything he says on the gemara and rishonim, and proceeds to categorically reject the notion that nusach ari is better than nusach ashkenaz (the nusach that the Rosh, Rashi, Rema etc. davened in!). In order to substantiante his argument, he quotes from the sefer milchamos hashem of the RAMBA"N, who states that one is required to believe only in all the Tanach, Midrashim, Talmud Yerushalmi, and Talmud Bavli; anything else is "hamaamin yaamin". Therefore, the Chassam Sofer states, one is not responsible to believe this opinion of the Berditchever Rebbi.
Although I myself accept that the Ohr HaChaim was written with Ruach HaKodesh, I cannot understand why someone who merely denies the Ruach HaKodesh of the sefer (but still accepts its greatness!) would be considered a heretic. Furthermore, someone who does not have such a mesora has no reason to accept its validity (not being a gemara, or even from the Rishonim).
MODERATOR Posted - 27 August 2002 22:00
The Divrei Chaim, not he Divrei Yoel. The Sanzer Rav, Rav Chaim Halberstam, ZTL, the great, and possibly the greatest - depends who you ask - gaon, posek and rebbe of his generation.

Since it says in Chazal that the Gedolim of every generation have Ruach HaKodesh therefore someone who (a) admits that the Ohr HaCHaim was a Godol B'Yisroel, and (b) denies that the Ohr HaChaim had Ruach HaKodesh, would be going against Chazal, which would make him an Apikores. The Rebbi in question did not deny that the Ohr HaChaim was a Godol Hador (if he would that would just make him a fool) but rather said that despite that status he did not write with Ruach HaKodesh.

Regarding the CHasam Sofer, you are mixed up. It's not the Kedushas Levi who that Teshuva was to, it was the Yismach Moshe (OH 197), and there is no mention there of the Ralbags Michomos Hashem or any of the rest of what you are quoting. That must be from somewhere else. (The thing about everything based on SHas and Rishonim as oppsoed to mussar seforim sounds like it comes from the famous Noda Beyehuda OH 35).

Also, the Chasam Sofer does indeed disagree with the contention that sefard is superior to ashkenaz, but not nearly as strongly as you imply. After he voices his disagreemnet he adds "This is what I have always said, but if I am wrong please correct me", which implies that he still maintained the possibility of being wrong, and as is clear form the content of the teshuva, that is because it was the Yismach Moshe who he was disagreeing with.

And the issue isnt the "spuperiority" of sefard over ashkenaz for everybody, but rather the preferabilty of people on our low level using it. The fact that the Rishonim davened in thta nusach is not a problem (for them).

And as far as believeing, the Ralbag, dont forget was a Rishon. He was able to reject the statements of other Rishonim. We are not.

Daniel Darwin Posted - 17 October 2002 12:35
I hope that my words did not and do not convey any disrespect to the Divrei Chaim, the great Sanzer Rav. Nor did I mean to suggest that one can argue with Rishonim (or, for me, even Achronim).

Actually, the Chassam Sofer (OC 1:16) does mention the idea that everything is based on the Gemara and Rishonim. In reference to the statement of the Kedushas Levi regarding the superiority of Nusach Sephard, he explicitly writes that this sefer is not available to him (in his community) and that he spends his time on Gemara and Rishonim alone ("for they are our life and length of our days...).
The Chassam Sofer (CS) to which you referred is the previous one (1:15), where he dismisses the concern not to wear wool when davening nusach sephed (due to its 'superiority'). Although he describes this concern as "words of hevel", he does later adds that he is willing to be proven wrong (which is, anyway, probably simple humility). This qualifies his opinion regarding wearing wool, but is not relevant to his disagreement with the superiority of N' Sephard. He quotes his Rebbeim as holding that all nusachim are equal, and I doubt that he feels their opinion is subject to refutation. Nevertheless, in the ensuing teshuva (16), he brings several proofs to disprove its superiority. In the last paragraph, he does quotes the RAMBA"N who holds that one is required to believe in the Tanach, two Talmuds, Medrash (nothing more unless you want to (hamaamin yaamin), and certainly anything less is total kefira).

It seems that you do not necessarily agree with the CS's contention against the Kedushas Levi. I didn't really understand your response to the fact that many Rishonim who didn't know their sheivet davened Ashkenaz (which is one of CS's points). What proofs do you have against him (and, in the end, did anyone convince him otheriwse, as he admitted that was possible)? [I don't understand what he writes there about the ARIZA"L, that he davened sephard because he was sephardi. Wasn't he Ashkenazi, but changed his nusach (which is okay for him)?] I saw a tshuva of Reb Moshe where he actually quote the Chassam Sofer about sephards' superiority and brings it to support his halacha.

Regarding the cheder rebbi who held that the Ohr HaChaim was not written with Ruach Hakodesh: Where do we find in the Chazal that "the Gedolim of every generation have Ruach HaKodesh"? [BTW, if this cheder rebbi had denied that the author of Ohr HaChaim was a Gadol HaDor, then he anyway wouldn't have a chelek in olam haba (for degrading a talmid chacham). I can't bring any proofs, but I think that you'll agree that there are different levels of Ruach HaKodesh. Because someone is a Gadol doesn't necessarily mean that he always has ruach hakodesh, is never wrong, that writes books only with ruach hakodesh. How, then, did the Chassam Sofer disagree with the Kedushas Levi (who was certainly a Gadol and whose opinion is therefore written with ruach hakodesh and must be true)?
[I hope that you'll post this and settle my confusion.]

MODERATOR Posted - 03 November 2002 23:04
The CS I was referring to was #197, written to the Yismach Moshe, the author of that letter he mentions in #17, regarding wearnign wool and nusach sefard, where he (the CS) refers to him (The Yismach Moshe) as "Hagaon M'Oiel". it is there, in #197, where he respectfully says to the Yismach Moshe that if he (the CS) is wron, he (the YM) should please tell him. Of course it is humility too, but look at the language he uses, which is incomparable to anythgin in the CS's entire writings. Its also due to respect for the authority of the man that he is disagreeing with.

I am not disagreeing with the Chasham Sofer regarding Sefard - I am attmepting to suggest a defense for the Chasam Sofer, who surely knew that the Rishonim davened ashkenaz, and who, despite hearing the Chasam Sofer's objection, did not change his position.

The Likutei Amarim is not the Kedushas Levi; it is the Likutei Amarim - there are 2 of them: (1) by the Mezritch Magid, and (2) The lubavithcer Tanya.

Regarding Shas and Rishonim: The CS writes that he doesnt even have time for Achronim, not that they dont count. He is merely explaining why he does not have the Likutei Amarim, and why he is not obligated to have it or know it.

However, this is the Chasam Sofer talking. He did not need the Achronim the way we do. He was, himself, one of them. We, on the other hand, are a totally different story. In Rav Ovadiah Yosef's Yalkut Yosef on Hilchos Talmud Torah (whic I accidently left in a hotel room in London and simply cannot find in ant seforim store anymore), he lists a veritable army of authorities that we cannot rule halachah anymore without the help of the achronim.

And the Ramban's statement surely cannot be taken to mean that we may disregard the Achronim (or rishonim) since he was writing that in the days of the Rishonim themselves.

The reason is, that even based on the Chasam Sofer's statement, it is absurd to just dismiss the statement of a great Torah authority - even if he is an achron - without enough proof to do it. And in the Chasam Sofer's case, he had what he believd to be ample sources and proofs to determine the Halachah on the issue in question, regardless of what the Likutei Amarim may say. For us to similarly disregard an Achron, or any opposing opinion ot what we say, we must do so only based on having ample Torah proofs. The issue is no longer whether we are obligated by the Rules of What We Are Obligated To Believe, to believe an Acharon; the point is that we would be foolhardy not to.

What we are bound to believe depends on the difference between our level of authority (i.e. greatness) and that of our opponents', coupled with the back-up that we base our opinions on.

The Chasam Sofer was defending his own position against a sefer of an acharon that he did not see. In that context, he is stating that he already has his conclusion and does not need to consider the issue any further. That does not mean that as a rule, everyone in the world can just disregard anythign stated by any sages past the Gemora.

The Maharashdam (EH 127) quotes the Rashbatz saying that "our generations compare to the earlier generations like a monkey to a human."

There are literally countless such examples of statements in the poskim regarding how we must accept the authority of those supierior to us.

In the Responsa Chut Sheni (#18): "Even though this Mitzvah is not listed in the Gemora, still, since our rabbis in France all wrote it, that is, the Baalei Tosfos, the Smag, Smak, Rosh, etc., we are obligated to fulfill it as if it was stated in the Gemora . . . forthe Rosh writes regarding the post-Talmudic Geonim, and even regarding the sages of each generation, that whoever makes a mistake by not knowing their words, it is as if they made a mistake in not knowing a Mishna,, so too here, someone who violates their words is as if he violated the Gemora, and is called a sinner."

(Interesting to see Rav Yaakov Emden's comments on the Chasam Sofer's disagreeing with his predesessors, in Yaavetz YD 264).

A monkey may not be obligated by law to believe what his human superiors tell him, but if hes a smart monkey, he will trust their intellectual superiority.

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