Archive for the ‘Halachah (Jewish Law)’ Category

The matter of the controversy between the Academy of Hillel and the Academy of Shamai was a difficult matter for Israel, because of the great controversy that persisted between them. Ultimately, it was concluded that the halachah (law) would follow the opinion of the Academy of Hillel always. Therefore, that this conclusion should remain in full force forever and ever, and should not weaken under any circumstances, is the upkeep of the Torah, so that the Torah should not be made into two separate Torahs. Therefore… it is more pious to hold like the Academy of Hillel, even when this constitutes a leniency, rather than to act stringently like the Academy of Shamai. This principle should be as eyes for us to see upon which path dwells the light in truth and faithfulness to do that which is right in the eyes of God.”

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, The Path of the Just, Ch. 20

The virtue of piety also requires that one should not cause any creature to suffer, even animals, and should show mercy and compassion toward them. Similarly, it says (Proverbs 12:10): ‘The righteous man knows the soul of his beast.’ And there are those who are of the opinion that ‘causing an animal to suffer is a prohibition of the Torah’ (Shabbos 128B). And at the very least it is a Rabbinic enactment.

-Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, The Path of the Just, Ch. 19

And this is one of the ways teshuvah (repentance), that at a time when trouble arrives, and the people will cry out over it, and sound the shofar (trumpet), everyone will know that due to their wicked deeds has this evil befallen them… and this will cause the trouble to be removed from them. But if they will not cry out and not sound the shofar, but will say this matter has occurred because it is the way of the world, and this trouble is coincidental, behold, this is the way of cruelty, and causes them to cling to their wicked ways, and upon this trouble shall be added other troubles.

          -Mishnah Berurah 576:1


Naftali Herz Wessely, Divrey Shalom veEmeth, Ch. 6DShvE3


MB-131-3-6In the above exerpt from Mishnah Berurah, the author cites as a halachic source the book Tanya, written by the famed Chasidic master Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, also known as the first Lubavitcher Rebbe. He goes on to say that the view of the Tanya is opposed by the book Dagul meRevavah, written by Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (aka the Noda bYhudah, after the name of his great work of responsa), but rules in favor of the Tanya’s opinion. The irony here is that Rabbi Landau was among the most vehement opponents (“misnagdim”) of Chasidism in his time, even though Rabbi Landau’s own cousin was the wife of none other than the Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem), the founder of the Chasidic movement. The further irony is that Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, author of Mishnah Berurah, while certainly in his time took no part in the feud between the Chasidim and Misnagdim (the feud had mostly died away by his time), could squarely be identified as a leader of the non-Chasidic segment of Eastern European Jewry. Nevertheless, clearly, with no pro-Chasidic bias on his side, armed with purely legal tools of judgment, rules in favor of the view of Tanya against that of Dagul meRevavah. Fascinating.