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How does 'shivim panim laTorah' work with events?
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Nov 27 2019, 10:49 pm
We know there are 'shivim panim laTorah' and many possible explanations/ways to interpret halacha. But how does that work when it comes to actual events that happened? For example, when Avraham served the malachim calf, pshat is that he went and shechted calves, but there are other opinions that say the cows ran away, so he created "golem" cows through Kabbalah (and that's why he was able to serve meat and milk - because it wasn't "real" meat). In such a case, it had to have been only one way that the event occurred. How can it be that all opinions are accurate?
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Ruchel




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 8:58 am
Because 70 panim la torah
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amother




Aquamarine
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:00 am
Avraham was able to serve meat and milk because it was before matan torah.
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amother




Natural
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:23 am
OP, this is a question that has bothered me for years. I wish someone can offer a practical answer.
Another example in last weeks parsha would be Rivka's age when she married Yitschak. Some say she was 3, and others hold she was a older, closer to Yitschak's age. Again, how can they both be correct? It seems (at least) one opinion is wrong. What's even more bothersome to me is that when rashi and other mefarshim are giving opinions about events that happened thousands of years before their lifetime, the must be doing it thru some type of ruach hakodesh. If some of the opinions are flat out wrong, how do we trust any of the opinions? Who's to say anyone is right once we see they are contradicting each other?
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:25 am
I interpret "shivim panim laTorah" as meaning that there are multiple possible explanations that all have validity; that is, they are all hypotheses that are consistent with the rules of hermeneutical interpretation that Chazal set forth. (Note that there is more than one such system; e.g., 7 principles of Hillel; 13 principles of Rabbi Yishmael.)

It doesn't mean that all such explanations are true. And as you point out, for historical events, the multiple accounts often can't all be true together; they are mutually inconsistent.
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:27 am
amother [ Aquamarine ] wrote:
Avraham was able to serve meat and milk because it was before matan torah.


Yes, that explains how, if you go with the interpretation that Avraham served both together, he was halachically able to do so. (And there are other explanations as well: he served the milk before the meat; he served them together, but didn't cook them together, which is really what is forbidden in the Torah, etc.)

But that doesn't address OP's question, which is that either Avraham served the visitors meat, or he didn't serve the visitors meat. Both can't be true at the same time.
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daagahminayin




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:42 am
JoyInTheMorning wrote:
I interpret "shivim panim laTorah" as meaning that there are multiple possible explanations that all have validity; that is, they are all hypotheses that are consistent with the rules of hermeneutical interpretation that Chazal set forth. (Note that there is more than one such system; e.g., 7 principles of Hillel; 13 principles of Rabbi Yishmael.)

It doesn't mean that all such explanations are true. And as you point out, for historical events, the multiple accounts often can't all be true together; they are mutually inconsistent.


That’s how I understand it, too.

If your family was handed down the most beautiful painting in the world (and let’s say it happened to be of a bowl of fruit), you would study it for the brilliant technique, the emotional response it evokes in you, and maybe try to work out the messages the artist is intending to communicate.

If you wanted to, you could debate with your siblings about whether there were really originally 14 grapes as pictured or perhaps there were less, or what material the original fruit bowl was made of... but the original “facts” of the first fruit bowl are not as important as what the Artist creates in the painting and what that means for us.

(Obviously this analogy is limited in that Jewish history is our own story so what happened does mean a lot to us, but it is helpful when trying to understand different interpretations by Chazal of events in the Torah).
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amother




Natural
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:47 am
JoyInTheMorning wrote:
I interpret "shivim panim laTorah" as meaning that there are multiple possible explanations that all have validity; that is, they are all hypotheses that are consistent with the rules of hermeneutical interpretation that Chazal set forth. (Note that there is more than one such system; e.g., 7 principles of Hillel; 13 principles of Rabbi Yishmael.)

It doesn't mean that all such explanations are true. And as you point out, for historical events, the multiple accounts often can't all be true together; they are mutually inconsistent.




So are you saying that for example when rashi comments about something that took place thousands of years earlier, he is merely offering a suggestion about what might have happened, as opposed to having some kind of divinely inspired ability to actually KNOW what happened?
For example there is a machlokes in a few weeks regarding whether there was actually a new king in Egypt or the same king with new and harsher rules. Again, these opinions directly contradict each other. Are both sides simply giving their opinion about what's more plausible as opposed to channeling some type of ruach hakodesh of some sort to recollect the actual event?
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bigsis144




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 9:54 am
I’m of the “when in doubt/contradiction, it’s about the lesson, not the facts” camp. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s what has allowed me to stay frum...

My intelligent, questioning 10 year old DS was actually quite bothered by the “Rivka was 3 when she got married” opinion. I explained it to him like this:

Well, let’s figure out WHY Chazal say that. We know that Yitzchak was 40 when he got married and 37 at the Akeida, right? So that’s 3 years in between.
If Rivka was 3 when she married Yitzchak, that means she was just born when the Akeida happened!
We also know that Sarah Imeinu died at the same time as the Akeida.
So just as Sarah Imeinu left this world, Rivka Imeinu was coming to take her place!
Maybe that is the message Chazal are teaching us - not specifically that Rivka was 3, her age isn’t what’s important. But that Rivka Imeinu was a tzaddekes just like Sarah!
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 10:38 am
JoyInTheMorning wrote:
Yes, that explains how, if you go with the interpretation that Avraham served both together, he was halachically able to do so. (And there are other explanations as well: he served the milk before the meat; he served them together, but didn't cook them together, which is really what is forbidden in the Torah, etc.)
,her Avraham served the visitors meat, or he didn't serve the visitors meat. Both can't be true at the same time.


In these situations, the bottom line is, we don't NEED to know which one it was. There are lessons to learn from what the mefarshim say, as per your previous post at 10:25.

ETA: I like what daagahminayin said. (I'm commenting as I work my way through thread. I'll probably have another ETA soon ;-D)
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 10:40 am
amother [ Natural ] wrote:
So are you saying that for example when rashi comments about something that took place thousands of years earlier, he is merely offering a suggestion about what might have happened, as opposed to having some kind of divinely inspired ability to actually KNOW what happened?
For example there is a machlokes in a few weeks regarding whether there was actually a new king in Egypt or the same king with new and harsher rules. Again, these opinions directly contradict each other. Are both sides simply giving their opinion about what's more plausible as opposed to channeling some type of ruach hakodesh of some sort to recollect the actual event?


If it's their opinion, it's based on sound principles. It's not a random hypothesis. And add ruach hakodesh into the mix.
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amother




Natural
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 10:55 am
bigsis144 wrote:
I’m of the “when in doubt/contradiction, it’s about the lesson, not the facts” camp. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s what has allowed me to stay frum...

My intelligent, questioning 10 year old DS was actually quite bothered by the “Rivka was 3 when she got married” opinion. I explained it to him like this:

Well, let’s figure out WHY Chazal say that. We know that Yitzchak was 40 when he got married and 37 at the Akeida, right? So that’s 3 years in between.
If Rivka was 3 when she married Yitzchak, that means she was just born when the Akeida happened!
We also know that Sarah Imeinu died at the same time as the Akeida.
So just as Sarah Imeinu left this world, Rivka Imeinu was coming to take her place!
Maybe that is the message Chazal are teaching us - not specifically that Rivka was 3, her age isn’t what’s important. But that Rivka Imeinu was a tzaddekes just like Sarah!



These explanations bother me tremendously. I've also heard that when rashi said rivka was 3, it meant she was pure like a 3 year old. But rashi had to know people would be studying his words for generations and he uses math to arrive at rivka being 3. So I assume rashi believes Rivka was actually 3 years old when she married Yitschak. For Rashi to specifically say she was 3, and really only meant it to give another message that Rivka was a tzadaikes like Sara, or she was pure like a 3 year old....c'mon now.

It also reminded me of a debate that I saw between a rabbi and a christian about the new testament. The rabbi was pointing out all kinds of endless contradictions in the new testament. I realized later you can always "kvetch" out an answer. For example one verse said a person died at 100 and 10 verses later it said he died at 125. You could always say that he actually died at 125 but the last 25 years of his life didn't count because he was bitter. Or in one verse it says there were 5 children and in another verse it says there were 10 children. Again, we could kvetch an answer that there were actually 10 children but only 5 were really loved.
For me to be satisfied with an answer, I have to feel it's reasonable and logical. To say it says "A" but it really meant "B" is very shaky to me.
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 10:58 am
amother [ Natural ] wrote:
So are you saying that for example when rashi comments about something that took place thousands of years earlier, he is merely offering a suggestion about what might have happened, as opposed to having some kind of divinely inspired ability to actually KNOW what happened?
For example there is a machlokes in a few weeks regarding whether there was actually a new king in Egypt or the same king with new and harsher rules. Again, these opinions directly contradict each other. Are both sides simply giving their opinion about what's more plausible as opposed to channeling some type of ruach hakodesh of some sort to recollect the actual event?


Actually, originally my post included the example of ויקם מלך חדש. But then I realized that Rav and Shmuel (in Sotah 11a) don't actually explicitly contradict one another. חד אמר: חדש ממש , וחד אמר: שנתחדשו גזרותיו So Rav says there's an actual new king and Shmuel says that his decrees were renewed/strengthened. Possibly, there could be a new king who renewed / strengthened the previous decrees, which could be consistent with both Rav and Shmuel. So I deleted that example.

However, there are times that you cannot do that. Sometimes no matter how much you try, you cannot reconcile two different explanations.
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 11:02 am
PinkFridge wrote:
In these situations, the bottom line is, we don't NEED to know which one it was. There are lessons to learn from what the mefarshim say, as per your previous post at 10:25.

ETA: I like what daagahminayin said. (I'm commenting as I work my way through thread. I'll probably have another ETA soon ;-D)


I agree that in general, we don't need to know what the reality is, and that there are underlying lessons to be learned. But I think it's also important or us not to surrender our rationality. We can say, in a case where A and B are not mutually consistent: There are sound reasons for believing A and sound reasons for believing B; I just don't know which is true. That seems reasonable to me.

What is not reasonable in my opinion, and what I cannot do, is to say: there are sound reasons for believing A and there are sound reasons for believing B. I just don't know which is true, so I will believe both A and B, even though they are mutually contradictory.
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 11:07 am
amother [ Natural ] wrote:
So are you saying that for example when rashi comments about something that took place thousands of years earlier, he is merely offering a suggestion about what might have happened, as opposed to having some kind of divinely inspired ability to actually KNOW what happened?
For example there is a machlokes in a few weeks regarding whether there was actually a new king in Egypt or the same king with new and harsher rules. Again, these opinions directly contradict each other. Are both sides simply giving their opinion about what's more plausible as opposed to channeling some type of ruach hakodesh of some sort to recollect the actual event?


Yes, I think that's true of the tannaim and amoraim in the Gemara as well. I think some of Midrash is exactly that. Gedolim used the hermeneutical principles that we have been given, together with Divine insight (Ruach Hakodesh) to come up with hypotheses about what happened.

If each gadol who gave a hypothesis KNEW what had happened, then that hypothesis would be by definition true. Many if not most of the disagreement that we see among peirushim would never have been written. It cannot be that Rashi (or others) KNEW that everything that they were writing was true. But everything they say is valid and is therefore worth studying.
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amother




Natural
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 11:09 am
PinkFridge wrote:
If it's their opinion, it's based on sound principles. It's not a random hypothesis. And add ruach hakodesh into the mix.



If the opinions contradict each other, doesn't that eliminate the possibility of ruach hakodesh?
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JoyInTheMorning




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 11:19 am
amother [ Natural ] wrote:
If the opinions contradict each other, doesn't that eliminate the possibility of ruach hakodesh?


I don't think so. I think there can be many possible explanations / accounts / hypotheses. Ruach Hakodesh allows a gadol both to articulate these different hypotheses, and to eliminate some of them. But it doesn't necessarily go all the way in choosing out one definite hypotheses from those that are remaining.

That's the way I see it. Admittedly, the way I see it is informed by my STEM background.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 11:19 am
amother [ Natural ] wrote:
If the opinions contradict each other, doesn't that eliminate the possibility of ruach hakodesh?


Maybe. Maybe for that particular event, I don't know. But for me, it works to think that one day I'll find out which one is true but meanwhile, it could be either.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 1:28 pm
Call me simpleminded, but these things don’t bother me. The meaning of the word perush is “interpretation.” These are all different people’s interpretations, not necessarily literal truth. The variety itself is fascinating. Each is plausible in its own way, any one of them MAY be the truth, and by the same token they may all be off base.

So what? There are lessons to be learned from all of them. It is not necessary to know right now the literal historical truth. Does it really make a difference to you if the meal that the angels didn’t eat was genuine beef and butter or engineered “beef”? Why? How does that change the historic impact of the meeting?

Make a list of all your questions and ask Eliyahu HaNavi when the time comes. That’s what I plan to do BE”H—right after I catch up to my grandparents and find out who all those unidentifiable people are in our old family pics.
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trixx




 
 
 
 

Post  Thu, Nov 28 2019, 1:28 pm
Re rivkas age, there's a simple explanation that she was betrothed at 3 and married later.
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