(1 January, 2019, 24 Tevet, 5778)
2. Torah Learning of Judah versus Torah learning of Levi by Rav Yitzchak Blau
3. Mrs. N. Henry-viii and the Talmud
2. Torah Learning of Judah versus Torah learning of Levi
MODERN RABBINIC THOUGHT
by Rav Yitzchak Blau
Shiur #16:Â Netziv on the Historical Development of Torah Learning
The Netziv repeatedly emphasizes the significance of talmud Torah in his writings. He portrays the study of Torah as an omnipresent aspect of Jewish life dating back to the time of the patriarchs. A critic might justifiably see the insertion of Torah study into the biblical narrative as a historical anachronism. On the other hand, R. Berlin exhibits an acute sense of historical development in his theory regarding the history of Torah learning. He discusses these ideas several times in his Torah commentary, but the most extended treatment appears in the first part of Kidmat Ha-emek, the introduction to his commentary on the She'iltot of R. Achai Gaon.
.... two modes of learning.Â One method does not engage in painstaking and creative analysis.Â Rather, practitioners of this approach emphasize received traditions.Â When a new case emerges, they rely on divine inspiration to make an ad hoc ruling.Â The second approach lacks divine help and may be less well-versed in the traditional material, but is deep and creative in its reasoning.Â It employs the rabbinic hermeneutical principles to arrive at novel conclusions.Â Obviously, each approach has advantages and disadvantages.
The tribes of Levi and Yehuda reflect these two methodologies. Levi teaches the laws to the Jewish people (Devarim 33:10) through the first method. The Temple and the presence of the High Priest help inspire divine aid, which enables successful intuitive rulings.
In contrast, when Ya'akov blesses Yehuda, he mentions 'the lawgiver between his feet' (Bereishit 49:10). This alludes to Yehuda's Torah decisions, the product of ongoing intellectual investigation. Success in this method requires intellectual discourse with peers and students who sit on the floor near 'the legs' of the teacher. Not coincidentally, those involved with the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolizes Torah, stem from these two tribes.Â Betzalel from the tribe of Yehuda fashions the ark, and the Levites carry it.]
The Torah passage about rabbinic authority and the rebellious elder also mentions these two models, as it alternates between referring to the 'judge' and to the 'priest' (Devarim 17: 9, 12). Rabbinic authority encompasses both the intuitive inspired rulings of the priest and the analytic creativity of the judge.Â If the category of rebellious elder applies to someone who publicly rejects either kind of ruling, then both methods of deciding are clearly authoritative.
One striking historical point deserves mention. The characters of Tanakh seem to spend less time studying Torah than do their counterparts in later Jewish history. One traditional response argues that Tanakh does not feel the need to explicitly report such study. Netziv's theory opens up an alternative explanation. Since in the First Temple period Torah study was more about received traditions and intuitive rulings, it did not require the same depth of involvement or time commitment. Thus, Torah study became a more central part of the religious Jew's daily routine during the SecondTemple period. Those of us who experience the joy of Torah study on a daily basis can certainly express gratitude about this development.
3. Mrs. N. Henry-viii and the Talmud
Henry Tudor (the 8th)Â had interest in the Jewish religion acquired a set of Bamburg
Shas which was in Westminster for about 500 years. Recently, Reb Jack Yankel Lunzer acquired it for his Valmadonna Trust Library!!
A complete Shas in excellent condition.
(Dee Voch Shavous 5778). issue 421