Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dream correspondences

On Berakhoth 57a-b (among the דפים in the Bavli that are highest in word-density per page), there is a long list of dream-correspondences. If you see X, this means X' (“X-prime”). If you see Y, this means Y'. If you see Z, this means Z', but Rabbi A says that it means Z'' (“Z double-prime”).

To us people who are doing סוּפֶּר־בְּקִיאוּת (or should I spell that as סוּפֶּר־בְּקִיאוּס, in order to make the sound clear to non-speakers of Ashkenazzis?), this section is quite tedious. It merely consists of apodictic statement after apodictic statment, with almost no שַׁקְלָא וְטַרְיָא, and almost no connection between one statement and the next. (For those of you who don't know, apodictic is the term used by מַרָּנָא וְרַבָּנָא דָּוִד חִוָּרָא-- who is known in Hebrew as מוֹרֵנוּ וְרַבֵּנוּ דָּוִד הַלִּבְנִי, and in English as our teacher and master David Weiss-- to refer to short, assertative statements, which do not involve פֵּירוּשׁ or שַׁקְלָא וְטַרְיָא.)

Yet I think that there is a fair amount of literary structure in this סוּגְיָא (if, indeed, it merits the name סוּגְיָא). I don't have time to analyze the literary structure right now, because we are doing סוּפֶּר־בְּקִיאוּת (also known as Daf Yomi), and 57 was already two days ago. Let me just point out the following points:

1) At least two items on the list are related to holidays: shofar (two-thirds of the way down on 56b) and lulav (two-thirds of the way down on 57a); we also have שְׂעוֹרִים (barley, related to Nisan 16, יוֹם הֶנֶף, the day when ספירת העומר starts), and חִטִּים (wheat, related to the שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם offered on Shavu`oth, the day when ספירת העומר ends), and each of these two species can be made into מַצָּה, a food that is related to the festivals of פֶּסַח and חַג הַמַּצּוֹת. And olive oil (שֶׁמֶן זַיִת) is related to Hanukka. Is there any literary connection between the symbolism associated with these various holidays?

I find it interesting that if one sees barley in one's dream, it means that one's sins are forgiven. Isn't barley considered by the rabbis to be מַאֲכַל בְּהֵמָה? I am reminded of the famous derasha that on Passover, we are like animals, who have just been taken out of captivity. Therefore, we offer barley on Nisan 16. Our sins are forgiven at this point. Yet we must still go through the refining process of ספירת העומר, during which we better ourselves, and God feeds us with manna (מָן), until we can become true human beings. Then, when the refinement process is over, we become human beings, and we offer the שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, made of wheat-- wheat made into hametz, no less-- on Shavu`oth. At this point, we receive the Torah. And the Torah is associated with שלום, so perhaps it is appropriate that wheat in dreams symbolizes שלום.

וְיָשֵׂם-- וְיָשֵׂם
לְךָ-- לְךָ
שָׁלוֹם-- אַיי יַי יַי יַי יַי יַי יַי יַי יַי שָׁלוֹם

(And if you had a disturbing dream last night, you can say the special רבונו של עולם prayer, found on 55b, during the aye yay yay yay yay. But I couldn't do that this morning, because I was the שליח צבור, leading the priest in the ritual. Why did we dukhen at Shtein this morning? Because we followed the pesaq that one should dukhen on חול המועד.)


At Thursday, 28 April, 2005, Blogger D.C. said...

If you're going to get all critical about it, you should dukhen every day, no?

I would think that either you're a "textualist", and you do what seems to be `ikar ha-din, or you're a "mimetic," and you follow the minhag Ashkenaz. But this seems to be an attempt to say that the logic behind the minhag should be applied in a way that it historically never was.

Ad matai atem posechim al shenei ha-se`ifim? :-)

At Thursday, 28 April, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

I don't see why one can't use the logic behind a minhag to implement a certain practice. After all, that's what the originators of the minhag did. At some point, somebody must have decided: "Let's dukhen only on Festivals", either because they are a time of שמחה (as the רמ"א says), or because they are a time of special closeness to God, or because the musaf prayer of Yom Tov contains more references to the restoration of the Temple cult (e.g. וְהָשֵׁב כּהֲנִים לַעֲבוֹדָתָם) than other prayers, or some reason like that. All of these reasons apply to חול המועד, as well as יום טוב. Therefore, I can say: "Oh, you founders of מנהג אשכנז had a great idea: we should only dukhen on times of happiness (or whatever). Therefore, we should dukhen on חֻלּוֹ שֶׁלַּמּוֹעֵד."

And you should be careful about saying things such as "a way that [the minhag] historically never was [applied]". There were all sorts of מנהגים in Europe that didn't make it into Artscroll. I'm not sure whether any community dukhened every day of חול המועד (though it stands to reason), but there were certainly communities where they dukhened-- and, in the chassidishe oylem, continue to dukhen, on הושענא רבה. There is no mention of this in Artscroll, but it is clearly a real מנהג.

I should ask Rav Sperber whether or not there were Ashkenazzic or Italian communities in Europe where the priests dukhened on חול המועד.

Mar Gavriel

At Friday, 29 April, 2005, Blogger D.C. said...

Okay, make that "applied in a way that, to the best of my limited knowledge, it never was." If there was a community that had the custom to do so, I'd love to learn about it.

I suspect that dukhening on הושענא רבה was a chassidic innovation, which makes sense given that I believe it's the זוהר that greatly enhances the importance of that day. Even within classic מנהג אשכנז, there was (and is to this day) variation in how much of the יום טוב davening was used on הושענא רבה (and you won't find that in ArtScroll either -- for which I don't fault them, as sometimes a סידור needs to choose a מנהג rather than attempting to record all possible options).

Anyway, my point was really that whoever started the custom of limiting ברכת כהנים to יום טוב was aware of everything that you mentioned. They were aware that there is also שמחה on חול המועד and that the תפילת מוסף is the same as that of יום טוב. None of these things are startling new discoveries. Nonetheless, they chose not to include חול המועד. This suggests that if you think the logic should be applied on חול המועד, you're missunderstanding some nuance in the סברא.

That is, unless what you're saying is that you pasken differently from the founders of מנהג אשכנז regarding the extent to which חול המועד has a דין of שמחה, or to which it is or isn't a day of מלאכה, or something like that. If that's the case, I would agree that the פסק to dukhen on חול המועד makes sense.

By the way, I'm a big fan of the blog. I only pick fights on blogs that I really like.

Incidentally, while I'm picking a bone with you, I've been wondering just how you are reclaiming the daf. "Claiming the Daf" I could understand, but it's not like the idea was started by a bunch of מחקר-niks and then the Agudah stole it.

שבת שלום ומבורך וחג שמח!

At Friday, 29 April, 2005, Blogger DKP said...

To answer your question, DC, I remember seeing a few feminist and other liberal tracts beginning with "Reclaiming the..." To me, it seemed like a cool name that would express the idea daf yomi, as well as all Jewish texts, are not restricted to the "traditional Orthodox," but rather are in the possession of all of kelal yisrael.
I greatly appreciate your positive comments.

At Friday, 29 April, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

That is, unless what you're saying is that you pasken differently from the founders of מנהג אשכנז regarding the extent to which חול המועד has a דין of שמחה, or to which it is or isn't a day of מלאכה, or something like that. If that's the case, I would agree that the פסק to dukhen on חול המועד makes sense.

In order to pasken this way, I would need to know what the “founders of מנהג אשכנז” believed about the דין of שמחה or מלאכה on חול המועד. My personal shitta regarding these factors is that the דין of שמחה on חול המועד differs from that of יום טוב in no regard (after all, the Torah says חג שבעת ימים, and the Mishna in Sukka says, with regard to Sukkoth ההלל והשמחה כל שמונה), and that they differ in terms of מלאכה only with regard to דבר האבד.

Why do I type on the blog on חול המועד? Because I hold that מעקַּר הדין, this activity may be permitted even on Shabbath or Yom Tov, but I have a מנהג not to do it on those days; I have no such minhag regarding חול המועד. Also, issues pertaining to the daf yomi probably count as דבר האבד, because we shall be onto a new daf by next week.

At Monday, 02 May, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...


I just want to point out that at K'hal Adas Jeshurun (KAJ-Breuer's), the כהנים dukhen at both שחרית and מוסף of each day of Yom Tov (NOT חול המועד), and at שחרית, מוסף, and נעילה of Yom Kippur.


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