Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Case Of The Doubtful Shehakol - A Study Into The Nature Of Doubt

הגאון רבי משה בן רחל
ר' משה מרדכי בן חנה
ר' נח בן חי' ליבא
לוי יצחק בן דבורה חי'
שרה רבקה בת לאה
שרה לאה בת רבקה
כל טוב ברוח וגשם להם וכל משפחותיהם

Myse she-haya: 

A person made a ha-goffen, drank less than a reviis of wine and then wanted to drink water. The halacha is that the bracha on wine covers all other drinks. But there is a safek if other drinks are covered if one drinks less than a reviis of the wine.  So this person had someone make a bracha on his own drink and then drank his water.


Now he wants to eat a piece of meat [which was in front of him when he heard the shehakol]. So no shehakol - right?? His friend made a shehakol for him so no new shehakol is necessary.

Not so fast!:-)

Maybe the shehakol never took effect because his water was really covered by the hagoffen. So now he has to make another shehakol on the meat. But maybe he really needed the shehakol on his water because it wasn't covered by the hagoffen and no new bracha is necessary.


This question depends on the following, almost philosophical, question: When the rabbis said safek dirabanan li-koola, did they mean that we should be תולה להקל מתורת ספק - we should just assume [even though we don't know] that whatever allows us to be lenient is the correct way because in rabbinic laws they wanted to make things easier. Or do we say that the rabbis said an absolute rule - once you have a safek you are completely off the hook, no questions asked [תורת ודאי]. 

If you learn the first way - תולה להקל מתורת ספק - then it isn't necessary to hear another bracha in order to drink the water but once one does now we ask ourselves - what will be the lenient way to go now? The answer is - no bracha, so we [now] assume that the bracha on the water was necessary. We forever remain in doubt and just do whatever is more lenient. 

But if we say that once in doubt about a fulfilling a rabbinic law then one is 100 percent assumed to have done it מתורת ודאי, then we must say that the wine definitely covered the water and no new bracha of shehakol was needed. So now that he wants to eat the meat a new bracha is necessary. 

So to summarize - if ספק דרבנן לקולא tells us always to be lenient even though we never really know everything then one shouldn't make a bracha on the meat [just like he didn't need the bracha on the water]. That is the lenient way. If ספק דרבנן לקולא is an absolute, then the water was covered and now one must be מחמיר and make a new bracha on the meat. 


The Pri Megadim [457/1] apparently solves this dilemma. He says that if one has matza dough piled up in a basket, partially within the walls and partially above the walls [which may be connected to what is below and obligated in hafrasha or maybe it is not connected and not obligated in hafrahsa because it doesn't have the requisite shiur] and he separated what is above the walls for what is within the walls - we can be lenient, say ספיקא דרבנן לקולא and assume that the upper matzos were obligated in challah and he is now פטור. So said the Pri Megadim.

But let's consider: If we say that ספק דרבנן לקולא is an absolute, then we must assume that the upper matzos were absolutely פטור from challah which would result in a חומרא - he must now separate once again.

But if we are just תולה להקל no matter what, then now that he separated from the top [which he wasn't obligated to do in the first place] we assume that he WAS obligated and he need not take again thus following our line of leniency-no-matter-what.

The Pri Megadim trods the latter path and learns that ספק דרבנן לקולא means that we never really know, so be lenient no matter what. 

Another proof that ספק דרבנן לקולא is תלייה להקל: 

The halacha is that if one didn't count the omer until Bein Hashmashos  - he may count then [without a bracha] and then continue counting with a bracha. The logic is that according to the strict letter of the law even if one missed a day he may continue counting with a bracha [although we don't and require תמימות - that he can't miss a day]. Therefore, if he has any basis to continue counting based on the assumption that he didn't miss, albeit flimsy, he may do so. In this instance, we can assume that Bein Hashmashos was still part of the previous day and he counted on time [שו"ת בית שלמה סי' ק"ב].

In our day and age, Sfiras Haomer is only dirabanan. That means that when Bein Hashmashos comes we are פטור from counting. So ספק דרבנן לקולא and now we can be lenient and not count. So how can we allow the person to count and to then continue counting with a bracha??? He lost his תמימות! At Bein Hashmashos the קולא said that he can no longer count??!


The answer is that we don't know ANYTHING. We are just תולה להקל in every instance. So at Bein Hashmashos he didn't HAVE to count but if he did he can now be lenient and assume that his counting "counted" and he may continue counting with a bracha. He retains his תמימות. His counting counted! 

But if we nem un ["take on" in Sanskrit, a term popularized in Flatbush and Lakewood] that ספק דרבנן לקולא is an absolute, מתורת ודאי, then definitely he was no longer obligated to count, he lost his "תמימות", and thus may no longer count with a bracha. 

From the fact that he may continue counting, we see that ספק דרבנן לקולא is תלייה להקל and in every situation we assume whatever would result in a leniency - in our case that counting Bein Hashmashos is effective thus enabling him to continue counting with a bracha.

[From the אוצרות of  Rav Genechovski ztz"l]

There is so much more to say and we hope to revisit this issue again soon!!:-)