Monday, August 03, 2009

World Congress - day two part 1

Session 325 on literature of the Rishonim. For the first lecture, see here.
Dr Bitkha Har Shefi spoke about the section on hilkhot niddah in Likute ha-Pardes. She showed at length the radically different approach found in this work - on the one hand, an ascetic approach towards sex, and on the other, a more egalitarian one, where both man and woman have to work to make their sexual relationship a spiritual one.

Tehillah Elitsur, whose doctorate is being judged now, spoke about the responsa of R Asher ben Yehiel, the Rosh, in comparison with his Pesakim. She found a long list of hermeneutic innovations in his responsa that are not reflected in his Pesakim. She concluded (I'm summarizing) that his Pesakim, like his Tosafot, were simply meant to transmit the heritage of the Tosafists, not to provide his original thought. That appears only in his responsa. An infamous judge opined that this was simply because his responsa were actual cases rather than theoretical law, but (almost) Dr Elitsur explained that the innovations she was talking about went well beyond the needs of the specific case before the Rosh, and reflected his general reading of the sugya.

Finally, Rabin Shushtri who is writing a doctorate at Bar Ilan on Bavli Sukkah, took the HU position on the Yemenite manuscripts of Bavli Sukkah, trying to show that they are original witnesses to an Eastern textual tradition, that can sometimes explain legal positions taken by Maimonides.

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