More Discussions for this daf
1. The Tzitz in Rome 2. Tzimtzima ha'Malkah 3. Sayif As An Ornament

Yitzchak Kasdan asked:

Although R. Eliezer attested that the words "Kodesh Lashem" were

written on one line on the tzitz that he saw in Rome, the Rambam paskins

that the words "Kodesh Lashem" should be written on two lines and

holds like R. Eliezer (that one line is also "kasher") only b'deved (see

Hilchos Klei HaMikdash 9,1 and the Kesef Mishneh there). Why doesn't

the Rambam hold like R. Eliezer l'chatliah -- after all he saw the actual

tzizt! [For one explanation see Michtav MaEliyahu chelek 4, page 57, ed.

note 1. ]

More generally -- when, if ever, may we determine the Halacha based

on the metzius thatexisted in the past that we later re-discover? Or can

we never determine Halacha in that fashion but still be able to rely on

such rediscoveries as proof of what the Halcaha is.

For example, the S'mag and the Mordechai (and I believe the Rambam

himself) brought proof to the Halacha of the order of the parshiyos in

t'filin in accordance with Rashi (as opposed to Rabbeinu Tam) from the

discovery of an old pair of (Rashi's shitah) t'filin at kever Y'chezkel.

Others did not agree that such t'filin could be relied on as "proof" of the

Halacha. See, e.g., Bach on Tur, OC 34. Similarly, there are those

today who bring "proofs" re: the "real" color of t'cheiles based on

tzitzis found at Masada. Is that a legitimate approach in terms of p'sak?

Any m'koros that you have regarding archeological finds and their

significance, if any, on p'sak Halacha would be much appreciated.


The Kollel replies:

(a) Halacha cannot be determined by things such as archaeological finds, because it is impossible to know all of the details of the issue based on archaeology. One example is from our Sugya of Tzitz. The Rambam himself writes that it was occasionally written (for whatever reason) entirely on one line, and perhaps the one that Rebbi Eliezer saw in Rome was one such Tzitz. Even though such a Tzitz was valid, it was preferable to have it written on two lines.

(b) We find in Bava Basra (78a) that the Rabanan rebuked Rabah bar bar Chanah who had been traveling in the desert and found the bodies of the Jews who had died in the desert after the Exodus, and he failed to count the knots on their Tzitzis in order to determine whether the Halachah is like Beis Shamai or Beis Hillel (who argue concerning the number of knots on the Tzitzis). Rabah bar bar Chanah, on the other hand, may have maintained that no proof can be adduced from such finds, and therefore he did not bother counting them.

(c) In the book "Midos u'Mishkalos Shel Torah" (Rav Yosef Weiss), the author cites the Nodeh b'Yehudah who wrote (with regard to measurements based on the size of an egg) that eggs have changed and have become smaller than they used to be. Rav Weiss points out that in the pyramids and in Pompei, eggs from early generations were found (from the times of the Tana'im and earlier), and they were all the same size as they are today. However, he himself writes that those eggs that were found may have been smaller eggs than the normal egg of that time (similar to what we wrote above in (a)).


David Leitner commented:

In reply to Rabbi Kasdan question on the practical layout of the Tzis and

how it was made. It is always intruiging when there is a dispute of what

happened in practice, especially for the shape of an article or as in this

case, how the wording was arranged on the actual Tzis. It is impossible to

have an arguament on a practical application, unless it can be viewed from

two different aspects and dimensions. There might be , for example, an

arguament between three people about the actual size of a book. But in

actual fact, they are all are correct. One gives the width, one the breadth

and perhaps the third person states the depth of the book.

Taking this further to our example of the Tzis, and to coincide the Rambam

with our Gemoro, and the reasons stated therein why Hahem should be on a

higher level, then it is a suggestion that the tzis looked as follows.


were the Hashem was on a higher level than the Kodesh L, and it was still

as if it was writen on two lines, one below the other in level, but on one

line in that the wording continues in one direction .

Good Shabbos,

David Leitner, BSC, Manchester.

The Kollel replies:

That is a possible explanation. Tosfos suggests that the Tzitz looked like that (as we drew in Figure #1), but from the Rambam's words it does not seem that he was of that opinion.