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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Does the psak of Beis Din affect reality?

The Wolf has a post where he claims that Psak does not affect reality. I commented there and would like to expand on what I wrote.

There is a gemara which is quoted l'halacha which supports the idea that the psak of Beis Din affects reality. The Gemara in Nidda 45a states that a girl under 3 who loses her virginity, the virginity (hymen) will grow back. The Yerushalmi (Kesubos 1:2) comments that even if when she had relations she was over 3 but then the Beis Din made a leap year which in doing so made her at the time that she had relations under 3, it will grow back. The Yerushalmi bases this on a pasuk in Tehilim. The Pnei Moshe explains the Yerushalmi and states: אף הטבע מסכמת עליהן. Even nature agress with the psak. This is explicit that the psak changes reality. Before Beis Din declared a leap year her virginity would not have grown back, now that they declared a leap year it will grow back. This Yerushalmi is quoted l'halacha in the Rama Even Haezer Siman 20 sif 1 (relating to this halacha of a girl under 3, see the Gra there) as well as by the Acharonim in Orach Chaim Siman 55 sif 9 (relating to a boy who becomes Bar Mitzva in a leap year, again see the Gra there). We see clearly that the Beis Din declaring a leap year changes reality. If they hadn't she would not be a virgin (the hymen would not grow back), since they did she is a virgin (it does grow back).

One of the mefarshim on the Yerushalmi (Kesubos 1:2) brings another example that psak affects reality from the Tosefta in Rosh Hashana (1:10). The Tosefta assumes that the מן did not fall on Yom Tov. The Tosefta says that how long the מן that fell on erev Rosh Hashana lasted depended on the psak of Beis Din. If Beis Din made the 30th Rosh Hashana, then the מן lasted 2 days (the 29th and Rosh Hashana). However, if Beis Din made Rosh Hashana on the 31st, then the מן had to last a third day (29,30 because it didn't fall because it could have been Yom Tov, and Rosh Hashana). Again, we see that the psak of Beis Din affected the reality of when the מן rotted away.

The Ran in his Derashos in Derasha 11 seems to disagree with this. The Ran asks why is psak given to חכמים and not נביאים? He gives the following example. What happens if the חכם makes a mistake in pask and he allows you to eat non-kosher food. The Ran states that you will be harmed because non-kosher is poison. Therefore he says, why wasn't psak given to Neviim who would not make mistakes (see the derasha for his answer). We see clearly from the Ran that the psak that the food is kosher does not affect the reality that non-kosher food is poison.

The resolution of the contradiction may be as follows. The Ran is discussing a case where the חכם made a mistake and paskened against reality. The 2 examples above are where the Beis Din paskened correctly and as a result of their psak reality changed. When the psak is in error reality doesn't change.

It comes out that a psak of Beis Din which contradicts reality (and therefore is wrong) does not cause reality to change, however, a correct psak whose outcome is that reality needs to change does change reality.

12 Comments:

At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Gemara in Nidda 45a states that a girl under 3 who loses her virginity, the virginity (hymen) will grow back. "


You can read this gemara (contrary to the pnei moshe) as meaning once beis din paskens, hadar dina, and she is now a besula

"Again, we see that the psak of Beis Din affected the reality of when the מן rotted away."

how long man lasts is a nes anyway. When it does/doesn't fall is also miraculous. This isn't really any different than shabbos, except that beis din sets the day that is kodosh.
The man is supposed to serve the needs of klal yisrael, so it makes sense for the man to "follow" beis din, but seems no more miraculous than the regular event.

"What happens if the חכם makes a mistake in pask and he allows you to eat non-kosher food. The Ran states that you will be harmed because non-kosher is poison."

there's no din of atem afilu shogegim on psak! The other examples are beis din!


"It comes out that a psak of Beis Din which contradicts reality (and therefore is wrong) does not cause reality to change, however, a correct psak whose outcome is that reality needs to change does change reality."

NO, it comes out that beis din can't be wrong on KIDDUSH HACHODESH, ibur shona etc. Both these examples are relate to beis din setting the calendar. Beis din is the boss on z'man.

When beis din is wrong otherwise, they bring a par he'elem dovor shel tzibur.

There is no such thing as a wrong psak of beis din on zmanim.

 
At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You raised some objections to the reading of the yerushalmi as dealing with chazaka on wolf's blog, that I respond to in this comment:

http://wolfishmusings.blogspot.com/2006/05/on-definition-of-reality.html#c114669499075646021

"1. The Darkei Moshe in Even Haezer Siman 20 quotes a Yerushalmi which quotes a pasuk in Tehilim which is the source of this Din. If this was just a chazaka who needs a pasuk in Tehillim, it is obvious."

- the posuk is necessary to tell you it's hadar dina.

- The posuk in question, "Ekra le-elokim elyon, le-kel goimar alei." The yerushalmi is taking le-kel goimar alei literaly. But what is god maskim to? You can understand this that the rbs"o is maskim to the beis din shel maata, to make her a besula again.

- in general, the yerushalmi brings psukim for many, many things on the same dinim that the bavli learns misavra, and they probably should be interpreted as asmachtas, not as a derusha gemura.

- The point here is that if all the yerushalmi is saying is that the reality conforms to what beis din says, it's not necessary for the yerushalmi to say "v'nimlichu beis din" - the same thing is true on years the shana is not meuberes. Normally, besuloseha chozros in three years, 36 months. This time, it's chozros in 37 months. The yerushalmi is not stressing that it this time takes 37 months! RAther, it's saying, her status is changed, and she's already considered a beula. Now, nimlichu beis din, and it's changing back.

"2. That is not what the gemara said. The Gemara doesn't say chazaka, the gemara says it grows back."

see above

2. In addition the Yerushalmi there talks about Simanim and gadlus, how the Simanim come later if Beis Din declares a leap year, again the Gemara talks about a Metzius"

#3 is a raaya that the pashtus is that we are discussing dinim, not chazaka.

--
I appreciate that the gemara is not conventionally learned this way, but the pashtus is that we are not discussing a nes.

 
At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what your'e not getting is that (acc. to my reading) it's really an issue of shiurim, like hoitzi beis sa'aros. What is considered besuleha chozros and what isn't. It isn't a measurable quantity with a clear cut off - this amount of healing is chozores and this amount isn't. There's a halachic assumption that the same amount of healing pochos me-gimmel we will call besuleha choizros and after gimmel, we won't.

For shiurim, kol shi'urei chachomim kach heim; Shiurim are arbitrary. The chidush in the yerushalmi is that they are talking about ibur shana. So the girl can already turn three, and then they are m'aber the shana, and now she is not three again. So what happens with her, because she already had the status of a be'ula. The yerushalmi is saying hadar dina, she is now a besula.

I think this is derech hamelech in the yerushalmi, despite the pnei moshe.

 
At 2:47 AM, Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

c'mon, bluke. i expect better from you.
the issue in here is clearly about bright-line rules. if a girl is raped when she's 2 yrs., 350 days, it'll grow back in the next 5 days, but if she's raped a week later, it'll never grow back? do you really think that Chaza"l believed that? or are they making a biological presumption (= chazakah), like for bar/bat mitzvah or a bajillion other things.

 
At 7:29 AM, Blogger bluke said...

adderabbi,

Learn the Gemara there. The Geamara there has a machlokes how this works, does it grow back or does it not get destroyed. The gemara then brings a nafka mina , etc. It is clear that they are talking about physical processes.

 
At 8:46 AM, Anonymous zach said...

Rachmana l'tzlan, this should never happen. Nonetheless, I simply don't believe that this claim of a hymen growing back for a pre-3-year-old any basis in physical reality. (I sure that some will rationalize by claiming nishtana ha'teva).

Any gynecologists around?

 
At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

I think that there are way more counter-examples. When Chazal believed in spontaneous generation, did that make it happen? When they argued with the umos ha-olam about where the sun goes at night, would they have made it happen?

I think that regarding the case of the besulos, it may well be that they thought that it was innately connected to the lunar cycle. Hence, it wasn't the psak of Chazal that was changing it.

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger bluke said...

The difference is there (spontaneous generation etc.) Chazal made a mistake in science, here the psak of teh Beis Din was correct.

How besulim works biologically and how it fits in with the Gemara in Nidda 45a bothers me as well and is one of those science torah conflicts.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that the Gemara seems to say explicitly that the pask of Beis Din changed reality.

In truth, I don't have a good answer for this.

 
At 9:55 PM, Anonymous yehuda said...

There are those who say that the current lack of spontanous genaration is also a result of nistana hateva.In addition others learn that chazel didn't literly maen spontanous genaration;they meant our eyes can't see them reproduce(not nikkur l'eynoyim) and therfor not considered reproduction.An intersting long letter on the general topic of chazel and science written by rav dovid karliner is to be found in shdei chemed maarechos metztitza b'peh.

 
At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Learn the Gemara there. The Geamara there has a machlokes how this works, does it grow back or does it not get destroyed. The gemara then brings a nafka mina , etc. It is clear that they are talking about physical processes."

it's not clear at all, it only looks that way at first blush, read it again.
But even if it were talking about physical processes, there are chazakos about physical processes. You would have to conclude something liek this yourself - if not, why not just check?! You can see if besuloseh chozros.

 
At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"However, we cannot ignore the fact that the Gemara seems to say explicitly that the pask of Beis Din changed reality. "

the gemara doesn't say it, some people who comment on the gemara understand the gemara to say it. there's a difference! Reread the gemara again; the plain meaning of the gemara is not that there's a nes.

 
At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice! Where you get this guestbook? I want the same script.. Awesome content. thankyou.
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