Mesora and Psak: How it may differ between Chassidim/Mekubalim and others

The closeness to Mesora has always been primary. Halacha LeMoshe Misinai is immutable. Torah Shebaal Peh as written is a record of Mesora including contradictions and attempts to disambiguate and show through the Midos SheHatorah Nidreshes BoHem, including Sevara (which isn’t listed but is clearly a Midda as testified by the Gemora in many cases). As time advanced through Tanaim, Amoraim, Geonim, Rishonim we move to latter generations known as Acharonim. To be sure, there are some Acharonim, who on occasion would argue with Rishonim. Two well known examples are the Vilna Gaon and the Rogachover. They were guided by what they felt was Emes L’Amito.

When it comes to Acharonim, there  are those, depending on which group you align yourself with, who are considered “the last word” and there are others, such as the Chazon Ish in respect of electricity where everyone seems to be Chosesh to some extent to his opinion. That being said, others will say he was an Acharon in B’Nei Brak and if he was your Rav and/or you lived there you need to follow his Psokim.

The Brisker Shitta, is different. Whilst they are beholden to Beis HoRav (Volozhin/Soloveitchik) they were never afraid to disagree with each other. Of course, there is a group that follows every word of Reb Meshulam Soloveitchik, son of the Griz (Uncle of the Rav) in the same way that Chassidim follow their Rebbe. He’s just not called a Rebbe, and he doesn’t fir tish etc.

We saw that as a Posek became more recognised, people came for Brachos. Some were averse, and others would give a general Brocha to be Yotze. I sensed this from Videos of R” Shlomo Zalman.

The Rishonim (and here there is some difference amongst Ashkenazim) and certainly Sephardim, are untouchable. If you want to innovate=bring something consonant with Menorah you need to bring a Rishon.

I remember well, some 40 years ago when my zeyda bought a copy of the Meiri. At the time it was very controversial. Beautifully put together, it was ignored somewhat for years. Now, it seems nobody has a problem quoting a Meiri. The Meiri was a Bar Mitzvah present for my cousin Ya’akov Balbin and while it sat in my house for many years after he went on Aliya, I sent it to him at his request.

There have been plenty examples of Ziyuf. There was the fake Yerushalmi on Kodshim, and more.

The common denominator was that to qualify for Psak,  especially the style of Psak (especially Hungarian) where one joins different Kulos, you had to have a Rishon (or early Acharon who quoted a Rishon given that some had access to Rishonim we don’t have, or a Girsa we don’t have.

There are stories where the Rav’s Talmidim, would say but Rebbe it’s an open Maharsho that contradicts your Pshat. When he was younger, he angrily banged the Gemora and said, “and I’m not an Acharon”? This was not haughty. This was what he felt. He felt his Pshat was more correct than the Maharsho and was ready to debate it with anyone.

Many Acharonim either didn’t own, or look at other Acharonim. That’s not to lessen their importance. But, it’s a derech.

Where Chassidim/Mekubalim are different, I feel is that they would consider that when there is no clear way forward or where there are different views, Kabbola, whether from the Zohar or Ari on occasion trumps and guides the Psak. A pure non Chossid/Mekubal would note such opinions but would be less likely to PASKEN based on them.

Do people agree with me or have I over simplified. Drush is another class. One has license to extrapolate and certainly doesn’t need a Rishon to find a nice Pshat.

Aleppo Codex - Genesis

Same gender marriage

I was reading the Australian Jewish News, and I noted a letter from my cousin, Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb. In that letter, Yaron argued that whilst the Torah explicitly forbade homosexual acts, it said nothing about marriage.

I’m not too sure what to make of his statement. Yaron isn’t a Karaite, who only follows Torah SheBichsav, sans the Mesora of Torah Shebaal Peh. Accordingly, I must assume that he either heard this opinion from his Rabbis/Poskim or that he was Moreh HoRaah himself on this issue. The final possibility is that he isn’t saying anything at all regarding his opinion on that matter, rather, he was simply point scoring on a technicality.

If it is the latter, there is no more to say. I find such a response hollow and unenlightening as far as practice is concerned.

The other possibility is that he has a Psak which he relies on, as above, which concludes that there is no issue of marital union alone sans the homosexual act. If this is the case, I call upon Yaron to name the Posek. If it Yaron himself, then a learned Tshuva written by him, should be constructed and sent to the Poskim in Gush, or perhaps R’ Yehuda Herzl Henkin, men with a Bar Samcha for Psak on such important issues.

From my non-Rabbinic point of view, the Jew who finds themselves attracted to the same gender, is forbidden to be alone (Hilchos Yichud) with a person of the same gender. This is a clear Torah She Baal Peh in the Shulchan Aruch. That being the case, the formality of a union ceremony can only logically be seen as a contributor to such events as opposed to a fence which might help someone with such desires from acting on those desires. It is Lifnei Iver, or perhaps M’Sayeah LiDvar Averya? I think the former. It’s not as if there are oodles of Orthodox Rabonim who would perform a “marriage union” of this variety.

I think it’s time for Yaron to come clean. Tell us exactly what you believe is permitted and not permitted according to Orthodoxy, in this domain, and name your sources. Please ensure your Psak has been agreed to by a recognised experienced Posek. This means someone who has also done Shimush, and Yodin Yodin.

If, on the other hand, Yaron is referring to non-Jewish unions, then I’d suggest that perhaps we could go back to Sodom or Charan, and find out if they needed to formalise such unions before engaging in the forbidden act, or whether there was no such formalisation.

Yes, marriage is not Kiddushin. However, the legitimacy ascribed to such, cannot be something which will aid the couple to avoid sin, surely!