Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hazon Ish, Kiddush cup.

I remember being told a few years ago (by my father I believe), that scholars who examined the Hazon Ish's kiddush cup, found that the cup was smaller then the measure of Revit (-i.e the amount of wine needed to say the kiddush over) as pakened by the Hazon Ish.

I've just read a good article by Menachem Friedman "A Lost Tradition" (מתוך הקובץ מסע של ההלכה בהוצעת ידיעות) where this story is retold, but with a few crucial differnces. In this telling the Hazon Ish made his Psak halacha that the measure of a Revit is almost double what was previously accepted, and then called on his talmidim to change their too small traditional Kiddush cups. Even when the Kiddush cups of prominent rabbanim from the previous generation were brought in front of him - to prove that previous generations held that the smaller kiddush cups were sufficent, the Hazon Ish did not relent.

Friedman brings the story as an example of how the Halachic books, superseded the passed down tradition. At the end of his article Friedman speculates that the reason the tradition was superseded by written Halacha, had to do with the fact that the generation brought up in the holocaust - felt inferior to the generation brought up by the yeshivot. This is of course the crux of the argument made by Haym Soloveitchik in his famous essay " RUPTURE AND RECONSTRUCTION:THE TRANSFORMATION OF CONTEMPORARY ORTHODOXY". Soloveitchik argues that the holocaust caused a rapture in the passing down of tradition in a "Mimic" function. I.E children no longer copied what their parent used to do - simply because they were not around their parents growing up due to the holocaust. Into this void entered theoretical knowledge in the written Halachic books. Arguments and Psaks that were in the past theoretical - suddenly could enter the opening  created by the ignorance of former tradition. 

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