Feb 9, 2011

Rav Ovadiah Disses The Chazon Ish

Rav Ovadiah spent his most recent motzei shabbos shiur dissing the Chazon Ish regarding his use of larger sizes for measurements. I actually find it a bit amusing. Here is what he said, according to the Kikar Shabbos website:

Rav Ovadia said that the measurements in halacha are all based on the size of the coin called the Drahm. This coin, he says, was not found in the hands of the Chazon Ish, but was found by Rav Chaim Na'eh. Beyond that, after the argument about the proper sizes, all the ashkenazy rabbonim supported Rav Chaim Na'eh's position, though the Chazon Ish and the Steipler stuck to their guns supporting the larger size measurements.

Rav Ovadiah discusses the measurements, specifically the proper size of a kiddush cup and how much wine must be imbibed for kiddush, and brings the Rambam who states the proper amount comparing it to the size of the drahm. Rav Ovadiah then adds that there are those who are more stringent. The amount is based on the drahm and ashkenazim did not have the drahm - only in sefardic countries did they use the drahm. The Chazon Ish then came along and used an enormous size for the measurement. Then Rav Chaim Na'eh comes along and he was the rav of Shchunat HaBucharim and was in contact with the sefardic metal smiths, and he knew what a drahm was. He disputed the issue with the Chazon ish, but then Rav Kanievsky came along and supported the Chazon Ish's position telling him to write the larger size.

He then goes through a similar discussion regarding the challah to be separated from how much dough, and again shows how the Rambam compared it to the drahm, and the Chazon Ish came along with a larger size. In this instance he quotes the Chazon Ish saying it requires 2.5kg of flour, rather than 1.56kg required by the sefardi poskim based on the Rambam, and the Chazon Ish explains that he came to the larger measurement because he did not have a drahm and doesn't know what it is. He chose to continue writing the larger size, not taking into account the sefardi poskim, and the various ashkenazy rabbonim also said to use the size the way it is done in yerushalayim, as the sefardim do according to the Mechaber based on the Rambam. So, we don't listen to [the Chazon Ish], but our measurements are based on the Rambam.

He then discusses the size of a kzayis as well. And Rav Ovadiah concludes that the Chazon Ish's shiurim are made up and ours, the sefardim based on the Rambam, are the true measurements.

Rav Ovadiah is definitely unique in his ability to scoff at gedolim and say how they didn't have the correct information at hand.. Anybody else says something like that and would be called an apikorus.

31 comments:

  1. When we both lived in LA, I was once at Rav Meiselman's for Shabbos, and there was also a fellow newly come from Lakewood to their kollel. The latter, somewhat diffidently, remarked before Rav Meiselman made kiddush that the becher was too small (following the Chazon Ish). Rav Meiselman had a larger one brought out and used it. In the middle of the meal, he casually remarked that he thought it was odd that that becher should have been less than a shiur, since it had been Rav Chaim's.

    ReplyDelete
  2. so why did he bother switching bechers? just because some young pisher made a comment?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rav Ovadiah evidently assumes that a 20th century coin/ measure is identical with a 12th century coin/ measure, because - it has the same name.

    ReplyDelete
  4. >so why did he bother switching bechers? just because some young pisher made a comment?

    Sounds like he did it so he could make his comment.

    This is very reminiscent of Menachem Friedman's The lost Kiddush Cup, which discusses, in part, a descendant of the Chofetz Chaim who owned, but would not use, his grandfather's becher.

    ReplyDelete
  5. S
    That is not what Reb Ovadiah said. Reread the post, he was comparing it to the coin's measurement at an earlier time.

    Why does it bother, upset or even cause a wink that the Sefardim might have gotten the halacha correct when the Ashkenazic poskim increased the shiur?

    ReplyDelete
  6. rabbi o. yosef is said to have reffered once to the chazon ish, as the chazon bish.

    ReplyDelete
  7. and in the original article here that I linked to he is quoted as saying the chazon ish's opinion is a "dei'ah meshubeshet" - fouled up opinion, to put it mildly

    ReplyDelete
  8. When we got married in Jerusalem (1972) we were given a gift by the Rabbanut. It was the book Ish U'beito by Eliyahu Ki-Tov. When I decided to bake challah I went to the book to learn how it's done. He used the measurements of the Grach Na'eh. I went according to that> (Ki-Tov was born in Warsaw, so no hint of Sefardi.) I always took Challah that way. I was invited to make challa with my daughter's 4th grade class in 2000 and the teacher told me to use over 2 kilo flour for the dough. (I was very surprised but of course followed her instructions - lest I embarrass my daughter. But I did ask the school rabbi, what's with the new measurements?)
    I am not sure this is machmir either. I mean, I have always felt it a zechut to take challah but I rarely bake that much challa at once. Why should I be deprived of fulfilling this mitzvah???
    To S: Do you really think Rav Ovadiah didn't think of that???

    ReplyDelete
  9. >Why does it bother, upset or even cause a wink that the Sefardim might have gotten the halacha correct when the Ashkenazic poskim increased the shiur?

    Don't be so self conscious. That can cause one to read all kinds of things that not only weren't written, but also weren't unwritten.

    (I disagree with your reading. This quotes R. Ovadya saying that R. Naeh consulted Sephardic metal smiths, not that he acquired a centuries old drahm of the kind known to the Rambam, or did any kind of historical research. If this was in fact the case though, then of course I retract what I wrote.)

    ReplyDelete
  10. One of the shiurim from Rav Mordechai Eliyahu that most impressed me as a young man was a talk on 'measures' before Pesah, around '82 or so.

    He emphasized the Rambam did for us a "hesed gadol" by translating all the measure to weight equivalents using the 'dirham'. And he pointed out that measure/weight was still known in the time of British presence in Egypt and Eretz Yisrael; and so we have a reliable foundation for relying on this. From then on, I stuck to weight based measures as he taught us.

    BTW, I recall Rav Zaks (the Chafetz Chaim's grandson) telling us the the Chafetz Chaim used a pretty small kiddush cup; similar to Rav Chaim Brisker.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I understood that Rav Meiselman wanted to teach the young man that there were other opinions without embarrassing him by directly rejecting his p'sak, which he cited in the name of his rebbeim.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Read Ben Zion Abbah Shaul's תשובות where he has an essay on the topic. He shows that the sfardic poskim have continuously held of the same measurements since the time of the Rambam. He makes a very good case against the Chazon Ish's reasoning, but nonetheless finds room for support for the Chazon Ish's chumra.

    Fortunately the sefer is available on hebrewbooks.org.

    The fact is that the Chazon Ish came along and disputed the minhag of much of the community. ROY didn't "diss" the CI- he defended the unbroken traditions of the sfardim.

    ReplyDelete
  13. S,

    (I disagree with your reading. This quotes R. Ovadya saying that R. Naeh consulted Sephardic metal smiths, not that he acquired a centuries old drahm of the kind known to the Rambam, or did any kind of historical research. If this was in fact the case though, then of course I retract what I wrote.)

    If you watch the video, you will see that Rav Ovadia did the historical research.

    Ephraim,

    The fact is that the Chazon Ish came along and disputed the minhag of much of the community. ROY didn't "diss" the CI- he defended the unbroken traditions of the sfardim.

    Exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I understood that Rav Meiselman wanted to teach the young man that there were other opinions without embarrassing him by directly rejecting his p'sak, which he cited in the name of his rebbeim.
    =======================
    IMHO the young man should have answered "very interesting PAUSE FOR EFFECT in an academic way but from an halachic standpoint we really don't care what R' Chaim actually thought or did, only how the later chachmei hamesora understood him."
    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  15. (I disagree with your reading. This quotes R. Ovadya saying that R. Naeh consulted Sephardic metal smiths, not that he acquired a centuries old drahm of the kind known to the Rambam, or did any kind of historical research. If this was in fact the case though, then of course I retract what I wrote.)

    S.:


    From the original quote (from the kikar shabbat website linked above) it is clear that Rav Na'eh did not base his calculation by consulting with Sephardic metal smiths, but rather from an analysis of all drahms from the time of the Rambam (none of which was ever found to be over 3 grams). Rav Ovadiah only mentioned the fact that there were metal smiths with whom Rav Na'eh was acquainted from his neighborhood to show that he had a good practical familiarity with the topic, unlike the Hazon Ish.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fine. I commented based on the post. Like I said, if it was based on historical research then I take it back.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You folks of Ashkenai extraction just dont get it.
    Eidot HaMizrach is a much happier way because we follow the Halacha with out adding restrictions.
    But to each his own...

    ReplyDelete
  18. There is no question that the custom was like R Na'eh. However, I think it is a bizayon haTorah to just dismiss the Chazon Ish. Readers here seem not to know that this an old machlokes that really doesn't even concern the CI. The CI is based on contradictions in how to calculate these shiurim. He's following in the way of the Tzlach [Noda B'yehudah] and many other great gedolei Torah of yesteryear. Rav OY has always placed much weight on common custom. Hence, he follows what is known as the shiur of R' CN. Remember that the CI certainly would not be meikel like "his"shiur!

    ReplyDelete
  19. >You folks of Ashkenai extraction just dont get it.
    Eidot HaMizrach is a much happier way because we follow the Halacha with out adding restrictions.
    But to each his own...

    The answer to a religious and cultural superiority complex should not be a religious and cultural superiority complex. To paraphrase (Ashkenazic) Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler's address to the Sephardic congregation in London in 1848, the Sephardim produced Rambam, Ramban and Menasseh ben Israel - the Ashkenazim produced Rashi, the Rosh and Moses Mendelssohn.

    Shalom al Yisrael.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Joel Rich:

    Just the opposite. What a chacham actually did (Ma'aseh Rav) generally takes precedence over theoretical analysis in deciding p'sak. And since Rav Chaim would certainly have been familiar with the Noda B'Yehuda's opinion we can take from his actions that he was not choshesh for it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "The CI is based on contradictions in how to calculate these shiurim. He's following in the way of the Tzlach [Noda B'yehudah] and many other great gedolei Torah of yesteryear....Remember that the CI certainly would not be meikel like "his"shiur!"

    Your are correct. The Noda B'Yehuda was the first to conjecture that the shiur was in fact double than common practice. It seems to me (i.e. I'm guessing) that this idea remained theory until sometime after the CI when his "chumra" was popularized (I say that because it seems everybody became more machmir in more recent times.). In any case, the CI wrote his psak along with the analysis that lead to it. But I don't think the analysis holds up to scrutiny and we have solid opposing poskim we can rely on.

    It should also be clarified that shiurim in general are not intrinsically stringent or lenient. If the k'zayis is bigger, than so is the etzba, tefach and amah since all measurements are dependent. What this means, is that the distance for lovud in a succah would increase, and tchum shabbos would also be longer. Both these mean that the CI is actually a meikel!!
    (Similarly, the measurement of yad soledes bo will be a chumra/kula depending on whether your making coffee or returning the kettle back to the stove.)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ephraim - I dont know what the Chazon ISh did himself regarding lavud for example, but the people I know nowadays who are makpid like the chazon ish only do so lchumra and not lkula.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "but the people I know nowadays who are makpid like the chazon ish only do so lchumra and not lkula."

    Nice point! Now you're forcing me to see what the CI writes on lovud!

    ReplyDelete
  24. R' Ovadia has actually revised the size of the shiurim slightly downward from R' Chaim Naeh's position, based on recent archaeological evidence of the size of the dirham coin. The revi'it, which used to be 86 ml, is now 81 ml according to R' Ovadia. (Sorry, I'm not sure where the source is. I saw it quoted in a manuscript I was helping to proofread, but don't have a copy of right now. Maybe someone else can point out the source for me.)

    ReplyDelete
  25. the mishna brura says to make kiddish shabbas on the hazon ish cos...

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rabbi Slifkin wrote about the size of a Kazayit here:
    http://www.zootorah.com/essays/TheEvolutionOfTtheOlive.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Chazon Ish was the one who "dissed" not only the established practise of almost all Jews, but the Torah of the gaon R AC Naeh. The Tzlach's speculation was just that; he did not pretend that he knew it for sure. But the Chazon Ish turned it into a shitah, and insisted that it must be correct, both lechumra and lekula. He wrote a letter to R Naeh (which is printed in Shiurei Mikveh) acknowledging that he had not a shred of proof for his opinion, but nevertheless "libi omer li" that he is correct, and he will rely on that intuition "afilu lehatir eshes ish"! Talk about chutzpah.

    For a clear picture of how nasty the Chazon Ish and the Steipler's campaign against R Naeh was, read R Naeh's Shiurei Tzion, where he documents the increasing dishonesty of the attacks on him and his shita, the deliberate misquotes and the ludicrous reasoning, all because they could not admit that all the geonim and rishonim held the smaller shiurim.

    ReplyDelete
  28. A fly on the wallFebruary 11, 2011 8:22 PM

    Rav Ovadiah can dish it out, but others can too. Back in the mid-'70s, when he took on the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Baba Sali said of him: מה לו לזבוב קצוץ כנפים נגד הנשר בשמים?

    ReplyDelete
  29. A fly on the wall said...
    Rav Ovadiah can dish it out, but others can too. Back in the mid-'70s, when he took on the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Baba Sali said of him: מה לו לזבוב קצוץ כנפים נגד הנשר בשמים?

    February 11, 2011 8:22 PM

    I have news for you - you have not understood the Baba Sali and what he was refering to. Investigate and you will find out.

    The real point here is that Rav Ovadia's halachic knowledge is second to none. This is difficult for non Sephardim to accept, but it is. His impact and rulings will be with us for hundreds of years and longer, and he will have achieved this dispite all sorts of adversity and disses from those who think they know better but don't.
    A final point, Baba Sali's sons all support The Rav and Shas.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The real problem has been for some years now, that unfortunately Rav Ovadia's knowledge is matched (or even superseded) by his arrogance. He may well be correct vis-a-vis the CI and his shiurim, but he is hardly the final word. ROY would do well to learn from R' BZ Abba-Shaul - then we'd all be better off, Ashkenazim AND Sepharadim!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please forgive me for interjecting, I am outside of Israel, but had to say that the World truly sits on you peoples shoulders. Please remember that Unity above all else is what we need. I love to read these posts because I see in them a dedication to the Torah that only a real Jewish heart can have. I so desire this heart, but alas have none. Please continue to serve G-d in truth and remember that all of us outside of Israel need your righteousness to shine so the World can enter into Olam Ha Ba. I pray blessings on each person who follows the Torah the way you do. Thank you for it.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...