Latest update: December 15th, 2011
Both Reb Moshe and the Chazon Ish acknowledge that Shmuel knew his calendar was not accurate and even by how much it was off. Nevertheless, he established it the way he did. The Chazon Ish says we find that Chazal often estimated, even when they had the ability to be exact, and the estimate became included in the halacha. They had reasons in each case for estimating; sometimes it was to enable a simpleton to perform the mitzvah.
Reb Moshe explains that it is not imperative that we begin reciting tal umatar 60 days after the tikufa; rather, that day was selected because in most years it would be beneficial for the rain to begin falling at that point. Even if it is off, it does not make a difference; estimating in this scenario was not problematic.
The Chazon Ish concludes, “You should know that the calendar devised by Shmuel is part of the [Oral Law] that was revealed through the Sages of the Gemara. There are times that their words came from a tradition passed down from generations, and other times they merited Divine Inspiration in expounding on the Written Torah and the Mishnah in remembering that which was forgotten from Har Sinai.”
He then quotes a sefer that claimed Shmuel based his calculation on outdated theories. The Chazon Ish wrote that “the author mistakenly thought that it was permissible to say things of that nature; however, he has mistakenly performed heresy!”
It seems the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe did not draw the same conclusion as did Avi Goldstein from the mistake in Shmuel’s calendar. And their strong words on this topic are indicative that this is not something to be taken lightly.
Rabbi Menachem Fried
Before we take out our erasers in order to modify the statements of our holy Talmud and replace them with new and updated findings from modern scientists, perhaps we should reevaluate our appraisal of modern science.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, in several of his books discusses scientists and their false anti-Torah theories (evolution, for example). It is extremely dangerous when individuals take the Talmud and begin to suggest changes and alterations because we are more “enlightened” these days. The Talmud was, is and forever will be emes.
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