God vs The Multiverse

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Forbidden Fruit (Part 3: Svara)

We'll take a small step and define the difference between סוריא and all other lands. We base this step on the fact (mentioned in the previous post) that סוריא has a Rabbinic prohibition, while all other lands are only the pure instance of the הלכה למשה מסיני.

In order to permit the איסור דרבנן on the fruits from סוריא (using the principle of ספק דרבנן לקולא), it is necessary to have a reasonable doubt regarding their status.  If you see grapes being sold outside a vineyard of ערלה and you are unsure of their origin, that uncertainty functions to create a status of ספק (doubt) in the fruits and thereby permits them.

However, if you see a basket of grapes coming out of the vineyard of ערלה, you are pretty certain that the grapes are ערלה.  Is there some far out possibility that the grapes are from somewhere else?  Isn't it possible that they happened to find their way into the vineyard in a basket, and are now being brought out?  It is possible, but it is not a reasonable doubt. Therefore, there is no status of ספק in these fruits, and they remain prohibited.

This is regarding סוריא, where there is a separate איסור דרבנן besides for the הלכה למשה מסיני.  But in other lands, there is only the pure הלכה למשה מסיני.  In this case, the fruits are permitted even when there is no reasonable doubt, but only a far out possibility that they are not ערלה.  The הלכה למשה מסיני says that only fruits that are definitely ערלה are prohibited.  An unreasonable doubt will prevent the fruits from having the status of an absolute ודאי (definite), and therefore will be sufficient to permit the fruits.

The main concept is that in סוריא the status of ספק is necessary to permit the fruits, while in all other lands the status of ודאי is necessary to prohibit the fruits.  The case which brings out this difference is where there is an unreasonable doubt.  Only a reasonable doubt can legitimately create the status of ספק, but even an unreasonable doubt can prevent the fruits from being ודאי ערלה.

This understanding of the הלכה למשה מסיני allows us to ask the next critical question:  What sense does it make to say that only fruits that are ודאי ערלה are prohibited?  Our knowledge about the fruit is something external to them, and it doesn't seem to make sense to distinguish between two types of fruit based upon our knowledge of them!  For example, if you are in doubt, but your friend knows for sure, the fruit itself is the same for both of you.  What sense does it make to have ודאי be the essential definition of the prohibition?

This is a subtle question, and it is important to appreciate the problem in order to move forward.

17 comments:

  1. I realized that that is exactly the main problem with my approach. How can the knowledge create an identity of orla. In eretz yisreol, as you said in the first post the kedushas haaratez is koveh the shem, but not in chutz where there is no kedushas haaretz.

    Unless somehow, as you mentioned in your first post that halacha lmoshe msinia is unique. Maybe the uniqueness is that relating to an object in some way changes the status.

    (Perhaps for example you can relate to cake as a desert at the end of non-hamotzi meal, or as snack, and it's still the same cake. I'm not sure if this is a good comparison.)

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    1. It seems true "that relating to an object in some way changes the status", but that is exactly what needs to be explained.

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  2. I was just thinking the following: one can identify an object in two ways a)through its general characteristics b)and the particular qualities to that object, meaning...lets take orla-it's a)a fruit of the first 3 years of the making of the tree and b)halachiklly a fruit of orla(in eretz yisroel).

    Therefore the torah says the following about a person who eats fruit of chutz laaretz within the first 3 years. The person relates to the fruit as a fruit of the first 3 years, but through an association to fruit of eretz yisroel, also views it on some level as orla. That is the mechanism of how one can change the identity of an object through mere perception. The halacha lmoshe msinai says that we factor in a persons psychology(through his association and we give it a halachik shem orla as a result)



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    1. What sense does it make to factor in human psychology in defining the object itself? Your approach needs to be clarified.

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    2. Different approach(methodology)- the idea is that the identity of an object(orla) can be established by non-physical properties,and those non-physical properties only have significance in relation to people and their perception of those properties. I have some ideas, but I don't want post them.

      What do you think of the approach?

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    3. Are you saying that the property of a tree being in the first 3 years is a nonphysical property which only exists in man's mind (and is not a property of the tree itself)?

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  3. Here is what I mean.

    The origination of an object plays an integral role in the identity of an object. For example you can have two white individuals, one from Germany and one from Poland, and therefore one is german and one is polish. However that identity is only significant in the real world if people actually know they come from those countries. If not, then there is no practical difference where they come from, as they are physically the same. Here too, you can have two identical fruits, one which is in the first 3 years, and one which is not. Physically they are identical(the fact that one is within the first three is not significant in terms of the substance of the fruit not withstanding the idea that fruit of first three years is qualitatively worse), and so the origination ie; the first three years or not will only be significant insofar that people know about it. If not, than it does not establish the identity of the fruit, as a fruit of the first 3 years. So therefore the halacha lmoshe msinai says that if people don’t know the origination of the fruit, then it is not going have a shem orla.(I think this might be similar to what you say in post 4-that the issur of orla is fruit which a person subjectively defines as orla. I’m also saying that because the person will define it as orla when he knows or perceives that it is orla because he knows the origination of the object.

    In suria I was thinking also along the lines of non-physical properties playing a role. Meaning...let’s take functionality of an object, which does not partake of the physical substance of the object, as establishing the identity of an object. A table is a table only so long as you eat dinner on it ect, however once you start lying on it, to the person it becomes a bed. Functionality is established by the person and also establishes the identity of the object. Here in suria essential circumstantial evidence and hard evidence is assur. That is to say that a person perceives of these two types of fruits as orla and thus to him there functionality is that of orla-set aside for three years. In both- shar artzos and suria-the subjective perception is koveh the identity of the orla; in shar artzos it’s through a subjective perception of the reality that it is orla, and in suria it is through him subjectively relating to it as orla through its functionality(because he basically perceives both of them as orla.)

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    1. 1. How can you say that they are physically identical when at the same time you admit that "fruit of first three years is qualitatively worse" (as the Ramban indicates)?

      2. Even if it is true that they are physically identical and the only way to distinguish them is through the perception, then how is a safek prohibited in eretz yisrael? Why doesnt the same logic apply?

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    2. Yes the fruit of the first three years is worse, but I think it's possibile that one will not take those lesser qualities into account when he assesses whether the fruit is a fruit of the first 3 years or not.(It would seem like that could be problem with your formulation as well-how could someone percieve something subjectively as orla or not orla, if he could simply look at the quality of the fruit-apparently it's not such a major factor in a persons mind.)

      In regards to why the same issur would not apply to eretz yisroel, I thought what is koveh the shem orla is the kedushas haaretz and not persons perception of the origination of the fruit, thus all reasonable halachik situations of where it could be orla(circ/essent. evidence and hard evidence) would be assur.

      What do you think of my formulation of suria?

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    3. We think that Suria is a detail of your overall approach, which seems to us to be too complicated. We think there is a simpler, more direct way or resolving the main problems of the sugya.

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    4. methodology question-I guess the best theory in general is the the one that explains the facts and is simple in structure?

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    5. Certainly. Also, a theory that explains complex facts often emerges from a few good steps. Rarely does a fully formed svara pop into your head that is not just a "stuff job".

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    6. I'm not sure if you're saying my svara was a "stuff job", but I followed your first step in that eretz yisroel is koveh the kedusha and not chutz laaretz. The next step would seem to be-what is koveh the identity of an object such that a person's perception of it establishes the identity as orla or not. And so I said there could be 2 possibilities-the origin-which is not physical, or the function which is not physical. I'm not sure if I understand your problem with my problem, other than the fact that you see it as less simple. This did not pop into my head it followed the line of thinking I just presented.

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    7. "your problem with my problem"-read-svara

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    8. To clarify by suria: a person relates to the fruit as orla, either because he knows for sure it is orla, or because he thinks 99% that it is orla based on ess. circ. evidence, and in his mind he is koveh the function of the fruit as set aside, thereby making it orla. All this happens simultaneously in the mind of the person.

      I don't see this as a complex idea.

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    9. What we meant is that your distinction between essential circumstantial evidence and accidental circumstantial evidence, while it might be a theoretically possible distinction between the two cases, does not seem to emerge naturally from the conceptual problem.

      It rather seems to us that after you made the distinction, it became necessary to force certain facts into the svara in order for it to work as a whole. That is what we meant by complicated.

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  4. To clarify further-since in Suria he relates to both as orla in his mind he sets them aside in his mind which is the functionality of orla-to be set aside for three years.

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