Monday, October 30, 2006

Maharshag and Borer

Disclaimer: This is not meant to pasken Halacha L'Maisa!

A couple of Rabbis from Hungary asked the Maharshag (bio at bottom) whether a prevalent custom in Hungarian shuls could be a problem of Borer: when an individual would receive an aliyah and pledge a certain amount, they would remember how much the person pledged by bringnig out a bag of play money (think Monopoly money) and setting aside that amount in the play money. Since they inevitably may pull out money that they don't want, and would have to separate it from the money they did want, the Rabbis thought it could be a problem of Borer.

Answered the Maharshag: since, after Shabbos, the money that was set aside as a reminder will be put back in the bag with the rest of the play money, it is not Borer. He suggested taking a look at the Melacha the way it was done in the Mishkan: the wheat kernels were separated from the chaff, and the chaff was then eventually discarded. The Maharshag explains that only in a case where the P'soles isn't coming back together with the Ochel do we have a case of Borer, as this is what the process was in the Mishkan. Again, since the money was going to be remixed, this custom cannot be likened to the Melacha done in the Mishkan, and it is therefore muttar.

On top of the fact that this p'sak is interesting in and of itself, his method for coming to this p'sak, and the way the Maharshag operates in general is unique. While he quotes Rishonim, Achronim, contemporaries, etc, he's not afraid to make a p'sak based heavily on his understanding of the sugyos. He just looked at the Av Melacha, and made a comparison right from there. No playing around - if it's not comparable to the Av Melacha, there's nothing to talk about. He even goes as far as to say explicitly that one doesn't need to bring proofs from Rishonim and Achronim. And, finally, he's not afraid to stick his neck out on the line. He doesn't care how many people are up against him; if it makes sense to him, he's going to write it. My kinda guy.

Anyway, many people see potential Borer issues with selecting clothes from a closet on Shabbos (not going into the details). Additionally, taking a sefer from a stack of seforim, according to many, is a problem. The Maharshag, in these cases, would say that since they (the clothes and seforim) are going to eventually go back to their places, it is similar to the play money going back into its bag and should be 100% muttar.


Anonymous aishel said...

While I understand the concept, the book, 39 Melachos by Rabbi Ribiat says straight out that you can't select clothes from a closet unless you're going to be using it right away.

Maybe that is the distinction...that it is being used right away.

But on the other hand, maybe not, because sorting dishes in the dishwasher is assur b/c of borer, and that too is going to be going back to their places eventually.

10:34 AM, October 30, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Aishel - first of all, I BEG of you to read the footnotes. Maybe you already have, but that book is SO machmir in English. To get the full scope of halacha, you must read the footnotes.

On the same token, what he writes in English does not speak to the arguments the Rabbis have had for centuries about Borer. Just because he writes something is muttar, doesn't mean there aren't people who say it's assur. And yes, he is up against other Rabbis (the ones who Ribiat uses to support his claim, probably), but that's why what he says is such a big chiddush.

Regarding clothes in the closet, I would imagine that he says you can only take it if you're going to use right away in order to meet all 3 criteria which make Borer muttar: a) b'yad b) miyad** c)ochel mitoch pisoles. The Maharshag isn't even concerned with these 3 factors which can combine to make a heter because he doesn't even reach that point. To him, it's not domeh to the Av Melacha as it was done in the Mishkan, so it's muttar.

Obviously, the reason I blogged it was because it was such a big chiddush, he's up against opposition, and he doesn't give a flip what other people say - my kinda guy.

But if you ever read the Ribiat set(as I do) for halachic advice, you gotta read the footnotes. No English book (and this one is a PRIME example) is going to be meikel in English, with a few exceptions.

12:32 PM, October 30, 2006

Anonymous aishel said...

Ok, I will bli neder read the footnotes. But its interesting you say he's more machmir in the English section...regarding baby wipes, Rabbi Berger tells people not to use them, and instead use a spray bottle and paper towels. But R' Ribiat's book says wipes are ok (which is what R' Gottlieb told me as well).

2:12 PM, October 30, 2006

Blogger nyfunnyman said...

Very True about English books. you can't be makil in English (well, you can, just few are). regarding baby wipes IIRC RRibiat says you *shouldn't* use them- not that you can or can't. maybe i am wrong. i am shocked R Gottlieb is makil, only b/c his Rebbe, the RAMU is vehemently opposed.

btw- you bring up an important issue and one i don't think you gave enough deference to- there is something to be said when a posek goes through a halachik question via rishonim and achronim. it's nice to have big shoulders and not care what anyone thinks- but this is extremely dangerous. let's say i ask you- u know when u get a new garbage bag the sides are usually attached via perforation- can u rip it on shabbos? well, if you don't care what anyone thinks, you'll look at the gemara and come to a conclusion whjich may be false. where do we draw the line? who can do this? we have a mesorah for a reason.
look, i know the maharshag was a goan, but for us to be doing this and emulating this sets a bad precedent.

3:31 PM, October 30, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

NYFM - I am in no way recommending we take this approach today. I apologize if you thought I was implying this. We should not do this, and to do this would be worse than setting a bad precedent.

The only time one can take this method, as the Maharshag did, is if and only if he is holding in the Rishonim/Achronim. For someone like myself, who has trouble placing who is a Rishon and who is an Acharon, it would be silly.

4:52 PM, October 30, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know the source for this Maharshag?

5:43 PM, March 21, 2010


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