Greetings. I don't understand why there were various heterim before the time of Rav Ammi and Rav Assi regarding the Kusim. Presumably they should have been excluded from Klal Yisroel simply by virtue of their being apikorsim because of the rejection of Torah She Be'al Peh and the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, regardless of anything else that they believed in over the centuries before Rav Ammi's time.
Why was this not the case? Why would there have ever been a time when their shechita would have been acceptable, or when their eydus would have been acceptable, etc.? Given that they were kofer in principles of Judaism, it would have made sense that they always be excluded from the very beginning.
1) David, a number of years ago I was asked a very similar to question to yours in the framework of Kollel Iyun Hadaf. I am forwarding my answer to this question on Yoma 18, and I am also forwarding a short letter in Hebrew that I once wrote to the Torah periodical "Kol ha'Torah" as an answer to a similar question asked by one of the correspondents on the subject of "Apikores."
2) My answers are based on what the Chazon Ish writes (Chidushim to Yoreh Deah 2:18, DH v'Ikar). I will attempt to summarize the main points. The Chazon Ish writes that the Kusim were particular to observe whatever is written explicitly in the Torah. Then he cites the Gemara in Chulin (132b) that if a Kohen does not believe in the service in the Beis ha'Mikdash, he has no part in the privilege of being a Kohen. He cites the Ritva (end of 132b) that this means that the Kohen believes that some aspects of the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash are unnecessary. He believes that Moshe Rabeinu received all the laws from Hash-m but he believes that they are not Me'akev; even if one did not perfrom them one still fulfilled the Mitzvah of Korbanos.
3) The Chazon Ish writes that such a Kohen surely denies the words of Chazal. Nevertheless, we see from the Ritva that while he is no longer a valid Kohen, he is at least still considered Jewish. This is because if somebody denies the words of Chazal but genuinely believes and carries out what is stated explicitly in the Torah, he is not a "Mumar" for the entire Torah but only a "Mumar" for the one Mitzvah of believing in the words of Chazal.
4) The word "Mumar" means somebody who has "changed" something ("l'Hamir"). If he has "changed" one Mitzvah but keeps the other 612, he is not considered as having "changed" the entire Torah and therefore is still considered part of Klal Yisrael. However, if he does not practice what is stated explicilty in the Torah, this means that he has "changed" his entire religion and is no longer part of Klal Yisrael.
5) This is the difference between a "Mumar" and an Apikores. A Mumar has changed his religion. An Apikores possesses a lot of mistakes concerning his religion, and will also make a lot of mistakes in carrying it out, but he still believes in what the Torah states explicitly.
Thank you R. Dovid Bloom.
I still have trouble understanding why there should be any difference between believing in the Torah shebichtav and be'al peh. After all, we are told a number of things: a) that a person who rejects the words of chachomim is judged in boiling excrement; b) a sefer Torah written by a min is to be burned. If so, then presumably such people should be out of Klal Yisroel right away. Besides, since the Kusim CHANGED words in the Torah to identify Har Grizim ("makom asher BACHAR" instead of YIVCHAR) then I would think this puts them outside completely of Klal Yisroel.
Then again, what about shechita, wine, bread, etc. of TSADUKIM?
David, this is a very interesting topic and I agree that there are quite a few surprises in the writings of the Mefarshim.
1) I found a Teshuvah of the Maharil, one of the Rishonim, which I think can help us a lot. It is in Teshuvos Maharil #194. The question the Maharil was asked is found a page earlier, in #193:2: "Is the Shechitah of an Apikores (for example, someone who despises a Talmid Chacham, and all of the different kinds of Apikores who are mentioned in the final chapter of Maseches Sanhedrin, such as Sanhedrin 99b) Kosher?"
2) The Maharil answers that we do not disqualify the Shechitah of an Apikores unless he actually worships idols. He proceeds to explain that all of the types of Apikores mentioned in the last chapter of Sanhedrin (for example, one who gives wrong explanations of verses in the Torah), even though he will receive a punishment for this which is too great to bear, nevertheless it is not logical that his Shechitah should be invalidated.
3) The Maharil explains why. The person who despises a Talmid Chacham, or explains passages in the Torah in a way opposed to the approach of Chazal, does so because he does not think these matters are sufficiently important. The Maharil calls his attitude "mere Chutzpah." Just because a person possesses these sorts of opinons does not mean that he is suspected of transgressing any prohibitions of the Torah.
4) When this person despises a Torah scholar, he does not understsand that Hashem will demand the honor of the Talmid Chacham and punish those who made light of him. When he mocked the scholar he certainly did a bad thing, but this does not mean that he would actually be prepared to translate this disrespect into practical Aveiros.
5) This answers your first question (a). A person will be punished for his wrong beliefs, but as long as he does commit practical trangressions against the Torah he has not shown that he takes seriously enough his wayward beliefs to be considered as having left Judaism.
6) Now to answer your second question (b): The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah 6:8) writes, "If a Jewish 'Min' wrote a Sefer Torah, it must be burned together with the names of G-d written in it, because he does not believe that the name of Hashem is holy and he wrote it only because he thinks it is like any other words."
7) According to the Rambam's ruling, it seems clear that there is a difference between a Min and a Tzeduki or Kusi. The latter two believed in the Written Torah, as stated by the Radbaz (Teshuvos ha'Radbaz 2:774, cited by the Sefer ha'Mafte'ach, Frankel edition of the Rambam). He writes that the Karaites believe in the simple interpretation of Moshe's Torah, and believe in Hashem and His Torah and in the prophecy of Moshe Rabeinu. Therefore, the Radbaz rules that one should not burn a Sefer Torah written by a Karaite.
8) Now I will relate, b'Ezer Hashem, to the question about the Shechitah, wine, and bread of the Tzedukim.
The Rambam (Hilchos Shechitah 4:16) writes that the Shechitah of Tzedukim and of others who do not believe in the Oral Torah is forbidden. However, the Rambam adds that if they slaughtered in our presence (and we saw that they did it properly), then their Shechitah is permitted. The Rambam explains that since the reason why their Shechitah is forbidden is that they might make a mistake with it and, due to their lack of belief in the laws of Shechitah, they have no trustworthiness to say that they did not make a mistake.
9) We see from the Rambam that the Tzedukim are still considered, in principle, part of Klal Yisrael. They are preferable to the categories that the Rambam lists there shortly before this Halachah, in Halachah 14, concerning idol worshippers, people who publicly desecrate Shabbos, and a heretic who denies the Torah of Moshe Rabeinu. The latter categories are not considered part of Klal Yisrael and their Shechitah is totally forbidden even if we saw them do everything correctly. In contrast, the Tzedukim do not believe in the Halachos of Shechitah that Chazal taught us, but they do believe in, and practice, what is stated explicitly in the Torah.
10) The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 2:9) rules like the Rambam. He also writes that the Shechitah of a Tzeduki is forbidden unless he was supervised by good Jews, and those Jews also checked that his Shechitah knife was in order. The reason why the Tzeduki is considered as belonging to Klal Yisrael is explained by the Chazon Ish, as I cited earlier, who says that someone who believes and practices the written Torah but rejects the words of Chazal is considered a "Mumar" for one thing (namely, he does not beleive in the Mitzvah of the Torah that "one should not turn right or left from all that the Sages teach you" (Devarim 17:11)). Someone who has rejected "only" one Mitzvah is still considered part of the people.
11) The Pischei Teshuvah (on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 112:1) discusses the Halachah concerning bread baked by a "Mumar," a Jew who has converted to a different religion. He writes that since the prohibition against eating the bread of an Akum is so that one should not come to socialize with him and marry his daughter (as stated there in Shulchan Aruch YD 112:1), it follows that one may eat the bread of a Mumar (assuming, of course, that one is certain that all of the ingredients are Kosher), because there is no prohibition against marrying the daughter of a Mumar.
12) It follows that since the Tzeduki is preferable to the Mumar since the Tzeduki has not converted to a different religion, the bread baked by a Tzeduki is also permitted. Again, one must be certain that the ingredients are all Kosher.
13) Similar logic applies to the wine touched by a Tzeduki. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah, beginning of chapter 123, in the Taz and Shach #1, that there are two reasons for why one may not drink wine touched by an Akum: (a) because of wine that was offered up to Avodah Zarah, (b) so that one should not marry the daughter of the Akum. Since the Tzedukim do not worship idols, and, in addtion, one is allowed to marry their daughters, it follows that one may also drink wine that they touched.
Thanks, I will review this carefully. However, had the Samaritans changed words in the written Torah early on, then presumably the chachomim would have given them a din of goyim early on according to what Rambam wrote. So it must be the case that they altered the written Torah much later.
David, I agree with you that it seems the Kusim must have made changes in their scrolls after the period when their Shechitah was disqualified. I am going to suggest the time in history at which the forging of the books occurred.
1) The Mishnah in Sotah 32a states that Eilonei Moreh and Shechem are one and the same place. The Gemara there (33b) tells us that Har Grizim and Har Eival are situated in the mountains of the Kusim. The Gemara then cites a Beraita in which Rebbi Eliezer b'Rebbi Yosi said, "With this matter, I forged the books of the Kusim. I said to them, 'You have forged your Torah.'"
2) The Chidushei Radal (printed at the back of the standard Shas editions) on Sotah writes that it is stated in the Talmud Yerushalmi that the Kusim forged the words in their Sefer Torah, and next to the words "Eilonei Moreh" they inserted the word "Shechem."
The Yerushalmi is in Sotah 7:3 (page 60 in the standard editions). It states: "Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon said, 'I said to the scribes of the Kusim that you have forged your Torah but you have not helped yourselves at all, for you wrote in your Torah next to 'Eilonei Moreh,' 'Shechem.'"
3) Accordingly, the Bavli says that the son of Rebbi Yosi said that the Kusim forged the Torah (some commentaries explain that this does not mean literally that the Kusim forged the Torah, but for the time being we will understand this according to the simple interpretation; see the Me'iri in Sotah who writes that Rebbi Eliezer established that the books of the Kusim may be assumed to be forged), while in the Yerushalmi we have the son of Rebbi Shimon saying the same thing.
4) See Yevamos 62b, which states that Rebbi Meir, Rebbi Yosi, and Rebbi Shimon were all Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva. According to this, we may suggest that it was in the generation of Rebbi Meir when the idol-worship of the Kusim was exposed and therefore their Shechitah was outlawed, but it was only in the next generation that forgeries in their Sifrei Torah were noticed. Hence, we can confirm that when their Shechitah was Kosher, the faking of the Sifrei Torah had not yet started, which is why the Kusi was, in principle, a valid Shochet.
I have read through your latest birurim again and find the subject fascinating. Here are a few other points:
1) Why should the shechita of a heretic who denies Moshe Rabbenu be forbidden just because of such opinions IF we see that he performs the mitzva(s) correctly? Why is this case different than the others where opinions of being against Chazal are not sufficient to reject his shechita?
2) What is the chashash of marrying someone prohibited such as a goy, when wine itself does not either help or hinder socializing with goyim in all other possible ways, especially nowadays and especially since there are many other gedarim for marriage AND today's goyim do not use wine in their religion?
3) In terms of non-frum people who deny the Torah through ignorance and utter am haartzus, presumably there would be no reason to have a chashash about them touching wine.......
1) I think we can understand this point with the help of the Teshuvos Maharil #194 that I cited in one of the previous replies. The Maharil explains the reason why Shechitah is acceptable when performed by the Apikores who does not believe in all the words of Chazal, but nevertheless does not transgress any practical Mitzvah. This is because this person thinks that what Chazal said is a
minor matter. He does not take seriously what Chazal taught but he does take seriously what is written explicitly in the Torah. In contrast, the heretic who denies Moshe Rabeinu does not believe in anything. He does not even believe that Moshe received the Torah on Har Sinai so he does not accept even the written Torah. Even if such a person performs the technical acts of Shechitah properly, he is not doing so because he believes that this was commanded by Hashem. Possibly he is doing the Shechitah for some social or other
motives, but not because Hashem commanded this. He has left the
Jewish religion entirely and his Shechitah is totally unacceptable.
2) As you imply, wine is not the only prohibition that Chazal enacted in order to prevent intermarriage. One also may not eat food cooked by a Nochri even if the ingredients are entirely Kosher. Some say that this includes eating their bread. In addition, I think that nowadays also the drinking of wine is a significant social activity and would encourage intermarriage. However, as I said, it is only one of the fences erected by Chazal.
The Rema (Shulchan Aruch YD 123:1) writes that nowadays, when it is unusual that idol worshippers pour wine as part of their service, some say that the Halachah is somewhat more lenient, and if they touch the wine it is not forbidden to derive benefit from it (for example, to sell the wine to Nochrim) as it was in the times of the Gemara, but it is only prohibited to drink it. Drinking the wine is still forbidden because of the Gezeirah against intermarriage (see Shach and Taz there #1).
3) The Chazon Ish (YD 1:6) writes that a Tinok she'Nishbah is considered a Yisrael and his Shechitah is permitted (assuming we are certain that he performed all the technical details properly). There is a Chazakah that if he would receive the proper education he would act the right way. However, the Chazon Ish discusses the Din in a case in which one did try to teach such a person but he did not accept what he was taught. He writes that one has to judge each case on an individual basis. The Chazon Ish concludes that people whose fathers departed from the ways of the community, and the children grew up without Torah, are considered as Yisrael in every respect. However, each case must be judged on its own to determine how much the individual must know about Judaism before he is held responsible for his actions.
David, once again many thanks for these very important questions
Thank you. This would suggest that the early history of their association with Har Grizim did not result in changing the word "asher yivchar" to "asher bachar" since in that case they would have earned the din of goyim even from the time of Ezra, which they didn't, and so there was not yet worship at Har Grizim. Thus when they wanted to help in building the second beis hamikdash and were still just "geyrei arayos" with a din of goyim, and had not been megayer properly a second time. Yet, had they worshipped at a sanctuary at Har Grizim at that point, they would surely not have been converted by a proper beis din for the second time.
Thus, the association with a sanctuary at Har Grizim could only have occurred AFTER they were converted again but before Shimon Hatzadik destroyed it at the time of Alexander the Great.
David, this certainly is a complex topic! However, I will cite a few sources that I have found.
1) First, I should point out that the verse in Melachim II 17:33 states about the people whom the King of Ashur settled in the Samaritan cities: "They feared Hashem but also worshipped their own gods."
2) This is consistent with the Halachah stated in the Rema (Shulchan Aruch OC 156) that Nochrim are not commanded against worshiping more than one deity. We see from this, however, that to start off with, the Kusim were not considered as Yisrael.
3) Now, if we look at the Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Vayeshev, end of #2 (which discusses the Kusim at length), we read that this state of affairs continued even after Rebbi Dustai bar Yanai and Rebbi Sabaya were sent to teach them Torah. The Midrash writes that it continued until Ezra came up from Bavel. According to this, it seems that they did not convert during the period of the first Beis ha'Mikdash.
4) However, it may be that the Midrash Tanchuma agrees with the opinion in the Gemara (Bava Kama 38b and elsewhere) that the Kusim are "Gerei Aryos" -- they converted to Judaism only out of fear, and therefore the conversion was not genuine. In contrast, Tosfos in Bava Kama (38b DH Gerei) writes that the opinion that they were genuine converts maintains that while originally they worshipped idols, later on they converted properly and observed the Torah.
5) This would seem to contradict what you wrote, that if previously they worshiped idols, then they would not have been converted later on by a proper Beis Din. Rather, it seems that the Beis Din looks at their deeds and beliefs at the time they request Gerus, and if they are genuine at that time, Beis Din does not pay attention to how earlier generations conducted themselves.
There is no doubt that much more could still be written on this subject, but I will close here for the moment.
Thank you. What I meant was not related to shituf. But rather to changing the words contained in the Torah itself, and choosing to worship in a "mishkan" at Har Grizim. For their conversion (a second time) to be valid, they had to accept everything the chachamim of ours taught them. They could have been converted by chachomim (even a second time) if they possessed a false Torah with different words, or if they worshiped at Har Grizim. So it must be the case that until after Shimon Hatzadik they obeyed the teachings of proper Yiddishkeit, and only THEN made their changes and decided to create a mishkan on Gerizim. Thus in the time of Ezra they did not yet mesalef the Torah or worship at Gerizim instead of Yerushalayim.
1) As I noted in one of my previous replies, the earliest reference that I am aware of concerning the Kusim changing words in the Torah is found in Talmud Yerushalmi, Sotah 7:3, where Rebbi Eliezer b'Rebbi Shimon is reported as saying to the Kusim, "You have forged your Torah." We find in Chulin 6a that it was the same Rebbi Eliezer b'Rebbi Shimon who was sent by Rebbi Meir to bring wine from the Kusim, and at that time it was found that they were worshipping idols on Har Gerizim. This all suggests that at the time of Rebbi Meir and afterwards, the Kusim deteriorated, but prior to this it seems that they were more reliable, at least in their acceptance of the written Torah.
2) Yes, you are right on this point, David. The Gemara in Bechoros (30b) tells us that Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah said that if the candidate for conversion says that he will accept all of the Torah with the exception of one detail decreed by the Rabanan, we do not accept him. The Mishneh Berurah in Biiur Halachah 304:3 writes that the Rambam rules like Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah. An example would be if a convert says that there are five passages in the Tefilin instead of four, he is not accepted. This means that at the time the Kusim were converted, they must have believed in Torah she'Ba'al Peh.
3) There is another source for what you argue. Tosfos in Bava Kama (38b, DH Gerei) writes that even though we find in Sefer Melachim that they were still worshipping idols, the opinion which says that the Kusim were true converts says that afterwards they converted properly.
4) Indeed, it seems that in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, there was an improvement in the conduct of the Kusim. Tosfos in Gitin (25a, DH ha'Loke'ach) writes that even according to the opinion that they were not true converts but converted only because of the lions, nevertheless even this opinion of Gerei Aryos agrees that they abandoned Avodah Zarah more than other nations did. Tosfos writes that even the opinion that they were Gerei Aryos admits that they believed in the written Torah. He agrees that they did not worship idols as they did in the time of the first Beis ha'Mikdash.
5) It appears, according to this, that the state of affairs in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdash was better. They were caught worshipping the form of the dove only after the destruction of the second Beis ha'Mikdash.
David, thanks once again for your incisive feedback.
Thanks again. It's worth noting chronologically that it would seen that the second conversion must have taken place long before the leadership of Ezra, who was in Jerusalem about 200 years after the Kusim arrived in Eretz Yisroel. That means that they deteriorated in the 70 years of Golus Bavel.
Since Shimon Hatzadik met Alexander soon after the death of Ezra, when the sanctuary at Grizim was destroyed according to the gemara, and probably was built after Ezra decreed against their bread, etc. that means they only acted as normal Jews for a relatively short period of less than 200 years, guided by proper scholars in Eretz Yisroel before any native Jews returned, although perhaps at that time they did intermarry with remnants of the shvatim in their area.
However, if the Kusim converted again, say, at the time of Yoshiyahu Hamelech, why wouldn't the Novi mention it? Even if they deteriorated again over the following century until Ezra?
1) We are now entering the question of when, if it did at all, the conversion of the Kusim took place and how long it lasted for. Firstly, I should say that since there is a major dispute amongst Chazal whether the Kusim were genuine converts or only converted because of the fear of the lions, this means that we will have to be careful -- when examining sources from Chazal -- to know whether the source we are looking at maintains they were "Gerei Emes" or "Gerei Aryos."
2) Possibly, the clearest source I have found so far is in the Midrash Tanchuma (Parshas Vayeshev, near end of #2). It states, "The Kusim are not considered as one of the 70 tongues (this is in itself a fascinating phrase which I will not focus on now, -DB) but from the other five nations that the King of Assyria captured." The Midrash continues to tell us about the lions that ate them up and about the two Sages sent to teach them Torah. After the Midrash tells us about how they taught them Torah, it states: "Even so, they feared Hashem but worshipped their own gods, until Ezra came up from Bavel with Zerubavel and Yehoshua ben Tzadok, and began building the House of Hashem."
3) I suggest that the Midrash Tanchuma sides with the opinion that the Kusim were never genuine converts. That is why the Midrash cites the verse from Melachim II 17:33 that they still worshipped their gods continuing until the time of Ezra. However, I would like to compare this with what the Rambam writes in his commentary to the Mishnah in Berachos (end of chapter 8). He cites the verse that says that they feared Hashem but worshipped their gods. However, the Rambam continues, "But in the course of a long time they learned the Torah and accepted its simple meaning. They were particular about the Mitzvos which they grasped on to, and were very careful about them. It was generally accepted that they believed in our religion and the Unity of Hashem, and did not worship idols, until they were checked after and it was found that they honored Mount Grizim. Research was conducted, and a statue of a dove was found on Mount Grizim and it thereby became known that they worshipped Avodah Zarah. It was then decided that they possessed the status of idol worshippers in all respects."
4) The Rambam never appears to mention explicitly the question of Gerei Emes or Gerei Aryos, but he does certainly seem to accommodate the opinion of Gerei Emes. See Tosfos Yom Tov to Berachos 7:1 (end of DH ha'Kusi), who compares what the Rambam writes with Tosfos to Sukah 8b (DH Sukas). Tosfos writes there that according to the opinion that Kusim are Gerei Emes, this is because even though originally they worshipped idols, afterwards "Nitkenu" -- they were "corrected." The same idea is stated slightly more clearly by Tosfos to Bava Kama 38b (DH l'Olam) that "in the end, the Kusim converted completely."
5) On the basis of this, I suggest that the conversion was a gradual process. As the Rambam writes, it took a long time. My argument is that it worked on an individual basis. When it was noticed that a particular individual, or possibly smaller groups of Kusim, rejected idols and observed the Mitzvos, it was possible to convert them. We have no evidence that there was a national conversion. In addition, if we say that it happened in a more gradual way, there seems no reason not to say that the process started before the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, well before the time of Ezra.
6) According to this, we may argue that at least some of the Kusim acted as normal Jews for over 500 years. The second Beis ha'Mikdash stood for 420 years, and some of them might also have remained upright Jews also during the 70-year period of Galus Bavel. I agree with you that there was a deterioration during the Galus period, and we know that they plotted to kill Nechemyah and delayed the building of the second Beis ha'Mikdash for two years. However, possibly these problems were more of a political nature and did not relate so much to their basic religious beliefs .
Kol Tuv and Hatzlachah Rabah,