web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Rov Or Chazakah: Which Is Better?


Red Heifer

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The beginning of this week’s parshah discusses the halachos of a parah adumah (red heifer). The red cow is shechted and burnt, and its ashes are sprinkled on one who is tamei meis. The individual thereby becomes pure.

The Gemara in Chullin 11a asks: Where in the Torah is the source for the halacha that one may follow a majority found in nature or tendencies (ruba d’lessa kaman). One answer that the Gemara suggests is that it is derived from the parah adumah. The Gemara explains that the pasuk says, “veshachat vesaraf – and you shall slaughter and burn it,” from which we learn that just as a cow must be whole and intact when it is slaughtered, so too the cow must be whole and intact when it is burnt. The Gemara says that since the Torah refers to the parah adumah as a chatas, it must not be a traifa. The Gemara asks: How can we be certain that the cow is not a traifa, since if it must be intact we cannot check its insides to determine whether it is a traifa. This is proof that the Torah intended for us to rely on the fact that the majority of cows are not traifes.

Tosafos (Chullin 11a, d”h minah) quotes from the ba’alei Tosafos Rabbeinu Chaim that we learn from parah adumah another halacha concerning following a majority (rov). He says that we draw from this that in a situation where there is a rov and a chazakah that states the opposite, we follow the rov. This is known as ruba v’chazakah, ruba adif. We see this because there is a chazakah here that stands against the rov, yet the Gemara says we follow the rov. The chazakah is that the individual was certainly tamei prior to the sprinkling of the ashes, but now a doubt arises as to whether the cow was a traifa and fit to be a parah adumah. The chazakah of the person indicates that he should remain in his current status, namely to remain tamei. However, since there is a rov that says that the animal is not a traifa, we follow the rov – and the person is tahor.

Tosafos uses the opinion of Rabbeinu Chaim to answer the following question (after a quick review) that he has on the Gemara: The Gemara asked for the Torah source on the issue of following a rov. Tosafos asks why the Gemara did not derive this from the pasuk that teaches us that we may follow a chazakah? Since ruba v’chazakah, ruba adif indicates that a rov is better than a chazakah we certainly may follow a rov. Tosafos at first answers that according to one opinion in the Gemara, we do not obtain the halacha that we may follow a chazakah from a pasuk. So in his view the Gemara is asking what the source is for the halacha that we may follow a rov.

Tosafos then says that according to Rabbeinu Chaim the question does not apply. This is because according to Rabbeinu Chaim we do not logically know that a rov is better than a chazakah; rather, we only know it after we learn from the pasuk that we can follow a rov. Therefore the Gemara is justified when asking what the source for following a rov is, even if we know the source for the halacha that we may follow a chazakah. This is so because we do not know that a rov is better than a chazakah until we know that we can follow a rov.

It seems clear to me that the two answers in Tosafos disagree as to whether the rule that we follow a rov over a chazakah is based on logic or if it is a divine decree that exists out of logic. The explanation in logic as to why we would follow a rov over a chazakah is because the two halachos work entirely differently. A rov is a tool that can be used to clarify the unknown. For example, in the case of whether the animal is a traifa, the rov can clarify that it is not a traifa. Chazakah, on the other hand, is not a clarifying tool but rather states that things must remain in place until we know for certain that they have changed. The Torah only said that we should rely on a chazakah when we do not know how to determine the unknown. But where a clarifying tool is available, i.e. a rov, we know the unknown and have no need to remain in the status quo. This is what Tosafos held in his question and first answer, when he said that the Gemara is only asking based on the view of the one who said that there is no pasuk from which we derive the halacha that we may follow a chazakah. Tosafos held that this logic dictates that a rov is better; thus if there was a pasuk to teach us that we may follow a chazakah, we would then be able to conclude that we can certainly follow a rov.

Rabbeinu Chaim believes, though, that it is not based on logic (that a rov is better than a chazakah). Rather, he says, it must be drawn from a pasuk. This view permits us to explain that both rov and chazakah are halachik tools, and that without the Torah dictating which is stronger we would not know to follow the rov.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Rov Or Chazakah: Which Is Better?”

  1. Jesus shed his blood for us so we would not have to sacrifice animals to please G0D, Jesus sacrificed his life for us and we are saved by his blood and stripes on his back. God Bless America and Israel. Deliver us from the criminals running our country and let us return to the CONSTITUTION as our only way of Governing the country. It has worked successfully for over 220 years, SOCIALISM and Communism has never worked in any country it has been forced on. Return our country to God, eliminate all of OBAMA’S decrees because he is not a King or a Dictator. AMERICA WAKE UP AND VOTE THIS COMMUNIST?SOCIALIST out of office, then he should be prosecuted for FRAUD and Corruption. GOD HELP US ALL!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/rov-or-chazakah-which-is-better/2012/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: