Thoughts on Judaism

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Daf Yomi - chulin 105

A treasure trove of entertaining superstition to be sure. I wonder if Abaye snickered through the entire thing or rolled his eyes.

My questions:

Is there a special employment agency for demons, like the one hired by Rav Papa? Are they unionized?

What is the correct spell for counteracting a spell that stops a ship from moving? If one uses the wrong spell, do they have to answer to Prof. Flitwick or Prof. McGonnegal? Had the Rabanim not know the proper spell, would it have helped that they did not eat vegetables bundled by a gardener? Or did that just allow the spell to work? Do you have to do the precautionary superstition AND know the spell as well?

What is catarrh (Soncino) caused by drinking water? Why did it have foam on top? What the heck was in the water back then? Ewwwwwwwwwwww!

If the demon had been in the private domain when the men placed the barrel on his ear, would they have had to pay him from hefker? How did Rav Papa pay his demon? Also from hefker?

Did you know that you do not have to pour off water from every cup, only from the first of the barrel, in order to keep the demon affected water away.

Why isn't this blatt the first one that is taught to a prospective kiruv target?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Chabad on Kaparot

Money quote:

The practice of originally kapores created a certain amount of controversy amongst rabbinical scholars. The Ramban, also known as Nachmanides, who lived from 1195 to 1270 C.E. criticized it as a superstitious practice of the Emorites, one of the neighboring pagan peoples to Israel. Later, Rabbi Joseph Karo (1488 - 1575 CE) also criticized the practice in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). While there have been communities that do not practice the custom, eventually most of the Rabbinical authorities did support it and encouraged its practice. As such, kapores is practiced by many in both Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities.

Has Orthodox Judaism ever endorsed such a practice with these words before? Do we not always swear that we are following the Shulchan Aruch? Is there a SINGLE OTHER CASE where the Shulchan Aruch openly criticizes a practice and vast swaths of Orthodox Jews do it anyway and refer to it as a "Mitzva"? I mean, granted the Rama disagrees based on gedolim that did it, but the Mechaber actually goes out of his way to denounce it and say why. (See O"H 605:1) This may be the only place where a sourceless practice is defended like this.

The article also mentions that the practice is not mentioned in the Talmud. Actually, it may well be referenced in Avodah Zarah Daf 14, Mishna 1:5

א,ה אלו דברים אסורין למכור לגויים--אצטרובלין, ובנות שוח בפטוטרותיהן, ולבונה, ותרנגול לבן. רבי יהודה אומר, מוכר הוא לו תרנגול לבן, בין התרנגולין; בזמן שהוא בפני עצמו, קוטע את אצבעו ומוכרו, שאין מקריבין חסר לעבודה זרה. ושאר כל הדברים--סתמן מותר, ופירושן אסור. רבי מאיר אומר, אף דקל טב וחצב ונקליבס, אסור למכור לגויים.

For the non-Hebrew speaking, the Mishna lists things that idol worshipers use that you are not allowed to sell to them, for fear of facilitating their foreign practice. One of those things, the bolded words, "A WHITE ROOSTER"!!!

It is most stunning.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Kaporos origin

The Armenians practice "matagh", where they slaughter a bull, lamb, dove or rooster at the door of the church. It is believed to be based on pre-Christian syncretism. Note that the rooster is the only option which is not used for sacrifice in Judaism. It is important that kaporos not be viewed as a sacrifice outside of Yerushalayim.

The purpose of matagh is to give a gift to G-d and as charity to the poor. It is also eaten on the day it is slaughtered. Is that why we would do it on erev Yom Kippur, so there was no opportunity to leave it over? Think pre-refrigeration. The Sephardic masters claimed that kaporos with a chicken was based on idol worship and the mishnah decrees that it is improper to sell a white rooster to an idol worshipper, except in a bulk context. The custom had died out until it was revived by the school of the Arizal, which immersed itself in "kabalah", though it is unclear to the earlier Sephardim that this particular custom came from any known place in kabalah.

Is the origin of matagh the source for kaporos as well?