Parashat Ki Tisa
“Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 34:26)
In previous weekly portions we have shown, explained, and proven that the sages determine halachot based on their knowledge and opinion. In this week’s portion we will discuss the ways scholars learn and examine them on two fronts: One: is there consistency in the way the methods through which Torah is explicated are learned? and Two: is the learning of them acceptable to the common sense?
In Tractate Chulin 113a-b: “Rabbi Akiva says: wild animals and fowl are not from the Torah, as is written, ‘do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk’ three times, to exclude wild animals, fowl, and non-kosher animals.”
And if we ask how we know that every kosher animal is forbidden from the Torah, as it is only written “kid” (gdi)? “Rabbi Elazar said that the Bible said, ‘And Judah sent a goat kid (gdi izim).’ It specifies a goat kid, so every place that it says ‘kid’ alone it means even a calf or lamb. And perhaps we should learn from it [that every plain reference to a ‘kid’ is to a ‘goat kid’]? The Bible wrote otherwise. ‘And the goat kid skins.’ Again, it specifies the goat kid. Therefore, any place where it uses ‘kid’ alone can mean even a calf or a lamb. And perhaps we should learn [the opposite] from it? You have two verses, each of which includes the other’s meaning, and from such verses we can learn nothing.”
About this Rashi wrote in his commentary, “Kid: any newborn, even a calf or lamb. As it had to explicitly say goat kid in several places we learn that a plain reference to a kid means any mammal.”
Here we have a simple question. If the definition of a kid is a newborn mammal, why did Rabbi Akiva exclude the wild animals (which are also mammals)?
But there is another big question. Chazal learn here something quite the opposite of common sense. Anyone with sense who wants to know what “kid” means in the Torah will look up the places where it is written “kid” as well as those in which it is written “goat kid.” Therefore we would think that every instance of “kid” in the Scriptures refers a goat kid, just as, though it is written “the calf of cattle” (Leviticus 9:2), we don’t claim that when it says simply “calf” it is also of a deer!
Another proof of the matter is the issue of the buck (seir izim, the child of a goat, slightly older than a kid). It is said: “And they took the robe of Joseph and they slaughtered a goat buck” (Genesis 37:31). It is clear that though it is written this way here, in other places where it is simply written “buck” (seir) the intent is a goat, and not a calf or lamb. In cases such as these we certainly do not say that we have two things, each of which includes the other, and from those things we teach nothing. There is no reason to say it about the kid, either.
[Since we have learned this about the kid, Rambam in the Laws of Sacrifices, chapter one, halacha 14, writes: “In every place where it says calf (egel) it is a yearling, bull (par) is two years old, goat buck is two years old–the whole second year it is called a buck” (and a kid is less than a year). Therefore the Rambam ruled in chapter 16, halacha one: “One who promises a large (promissory offering) and brings a small one is not released, if he promised a small one and brought a large he is released…if he promised a kid and brought a buck he is released,” but if he promised a buck and brought a kid he is not released from his obligation. Incidentally, you see that for the Rambam, who was very exacting in his words, “kid” means a young goat and not the young of another domestic or wild animal, as in the Gemara, which uses the simple term “kid” to describe a young goat.
The Kesef Mishneh questioned the Rambam, who ruled that a buck is a two year old: “The sin offerings of the public are valid from the thirtieth day forward… and they are written to be bucks.” Using this question he changed the Rambam’s version and made a great innovation: He divides between the year old “goat buck” and the plain “buck” who is two years old. He did not note where he found this division between one buck and another. The Mishneh LeMelech wondered at this already, for we have not found such a division in theMusafim — the additional sacrifices of the holidays.]
But let us return to the issue of the kid. The Ibn Ezra wrote explicitly (Exodus 23:19): “And Rabbi Shlomo said that the kid is the very young, and that the name applies to the young of the bull and the sheep, and the specific is goat kid, for otherwise why specify, but this is not so. The kid is not called thus unless it is of the goats, and in Arabic it is gdi, and it shall not be said of any other species.” Thus, according to the Ibn Ezra, the gemara in Chulin which extracted “gdi” to all domestic animals’ flesh made a basic error.
And not only are the ways the sages learned very odd, there is no consistency and order to their learning, to the extent that we do not know or recognize how they learned. The author of the Ginat V’radim, in his book Gan HaMelech, section 63, wondered, “There are two things which do not fit each other in the Gemara. Sometimes we say that if something is specified, in more general situation the law is not valid, and sometimes we learn the opposite, saying that this is a generalization and all the rule is determined for all from it. In Chulin 113, about cooking in milk, the Gemara learns that since it was written about Yehuda, ‘Yehuda sent a goat kid’ we learn that it was a goat kid, and they asked in the Gemara, saying that on the contrary, we learn from this… we see from here that when there is learning and innovation on some matter, it would be appropriate to learn from it and make it a general rule and not treat it as a specification excluded from a more general state. In other places the meaning is opposite, and we must study this.” (We have given here a summary of his words.)
An example of the matter is in Tractate Shabbat 106a, “Since we needed a Scriptural verse to permit the circumcision, we learn that generally one who wounds [on the Sabbath] is liable.” We do not say that from this we generalize that wounding on the Sabbath is permitted. There are many more such examples.
So that we not come close to something the Torah forbade, the sages made fences and borders, and therefore they forbade us to eat milk after meat but allowed meat after cheese: “Rav Chisda said, one who ate meat may not eat cheese, one who ate cheese is allowed meat” (Chulin 105a).
But the Rama, in Yoreh Deah 89, section 2, wrote: “There are those who are stringent even on meat after cheese… (and so it is in the Zohar).”
Halachic rulings coming from the Zohar are one of those things which uproots the foundations of our faith, for it is clear and known that Torah is not in the Heavens. We have seen fit to expand upon this issue, and first we will copy the Maharam of Rottenburg’s answer in part four (Prague printing), section 615: “Concerning what I was asked, why I do not eat domestic nor wild animal flesh after cheese but am lenient about the meat of fowl: In my young days I made fun of people who would do so, and moreover, it seemed to me that it [the actions of those who customarily did not eat meat after cheese] was something like apostasy, until one time, from meal to meal, I found cheese between my teeth. So I commanded myself to be stringent about meat after cheese as with cheese after meat. This does not contradict the Gemara and is not as one who adds or takes away… for everyone is allowed to be on his guard.”
The Zohar says his words not through learning and deduction as is the way of sages in every generation, but he places himself as though he were sitting behind the G-d’s curtain, and he forbids us what the Talmud allowed, and even frightens us that one who sires a child during this time will have a child with a soul from the devil. This is a sort of apostasy, as the Maharam of Rottenberg wrote, and this is not simple apostasy, but the sort that carries the death penalty. Even though the author of the Zohar is not an elder who upholds his own words against the decision of the Sanhedrin and adds to the Torah, for he was not a sage who sat in the Sanhedrin, he is like a prophet who innovates something and is sentenced to death by strangulation. As the Rambam wrote in the introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah: “And he will prophesize in the name of G-d and will call the masses…there is no difference whether he adds to or takes away from a Scriptural verse, or adds to or takes away from a tradition we possess… he will be killed by strangulation, for he is a false prophet… G-d did not allow us to learn from the prophets, only from the sages, the men of learning.”
You see that the words of the author of the Zohar, above, who forbade eating meat after cheese, are neither a fence nor a border. He forbids the eating in and of itself, and he is as one who adds a halacha to the ones we have received; he is sentenced to strangulation.
And though an opponent may disagree and say that the Zohar did not prophesize in the name of G-d, but said things through the Divine Spirit and therefore he has not earned death, we are certainly forbidden to determine halacha that way, even if we just intend to be stringent, as Rav Avraham Yitzhchak HaCohen Kook wrote in his book, Mishpat Cohen, section 96: “We do not determine halachot based on the Divine spirit; it is not in the heavens.”
We will conclude with the words of the Meiri on Sanhedrin 90a: “Either he prophesized an addition to the Torah, not as a fence or an emergency ruling or to ensure the keeping of the other commandments, but as a new prophecy and Divine decree… we do not listen to him but deny his prophecy, though we recognize him [as a prophet], and we even hold and kill him through strangulation with no doubt or favoritism… and this is true not only of the words of the Torah, but also of the words of the sages, such as one who allows chametz in the sixth hour or forbids it in the fifth, if not as a way of making a fence for the Torah.”
Words of True Knowledge