3

Igros Moshe OCI:157 says one can make a siyum on any book of Tanach "provided it was studied with our Rishonim; not those latter-day commentaries who make up new stuff and show contempt for the Torah."

Any idea what commentary (or genre of commentaries) Rabbi Feinstein had in mind? (I could see a staunch traditionalist using such language about Malbim, but would hope it wasn't so.) Thus -- do we know how Rav Moshe viewed Malbim's commentary? (Or Malbim the person in general?)

Nafka Mina: If someone studied a book of Tanach with Malbim, would Rabbi Feinstein allow them to make a siyum on it and be exempted from Taanis Bechorim, or to eat meat in the Nine Days?

9
  • Fact based answers please. Shame Rav Moshe himself wasn't more specific.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 11, 2023 at 0:41
  • 4
    The original wording of the teshuva: אבל פשוט שהוא רק כשלמדו כפי פירוש אמת שהוא כאחד מפירושי רבותינו הראשונים ולא בפירושים מאנשים דעלמא שרובן בדואים ואינם אמת והרבה יש גם כעין מגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה Translation: But it's simple that this is only when they learned according to a true commentary which is like one of the commentaries of our rabbis the Rishonim, and not with commentaries from ordinary people which are mostly made up and aren't truthful and many possess a form of 'megaleh panim baTorah shelo k'halacha'. For R. Moshe, Malbim was likely more "כאחד...הראשונים" vs. "מאנשים דעלמא"
    – EraserX
    Apr 11, 2023 at 5:10
  • Your Q is very compound. Are you asking what kinds of commentaries Rav Moshe was referring to? Why do you single out the Malbim davka as opposed to the Mei Shiloach, Sfat Emet, Meshekh Chachma, Hatam Sofer, Zera Shimshon, or any of the other many non-Rishonim commentaries that could be controversial?
    – Avraham
    Apr 11, 2023 at 8:37
  • @RabbiKaii Rav Moshe was a gentleman's gentleman. His style was not to name those he was criticizing ... you have to figure it out based on context. (Usually it's clear, e.g. "that rabbi in Israel allowing abortion" was the Tzitz Eliezer, or "that guy who wrote tons of Jewish music, started off kosher, but recently has been doing some weird stuff...")
    – Shalom
    Apr 11, 2023 at 13:16
  • @Avraham I'm asking specifically about the Malbim because: a.) he wrote on (almost) all of Tanach (the context of this responsum); b.) his commentary "sees" all sorts of things happening that the standard Rishonim never noted; c.) while he is a stickler ad-kotzo-shel-yud on halachic matters and also wrote on halacha, his interpretations on many stories veer widely from those of Chazal; d.) In his own lifetime he couldn't catch a break -- too modern for the Chassidim, too traditional for the Maskilim.
    – Shalom
    Apr 11, 2023 at 13:23

1 Answer 1

16

The following expands upon the comment I made earlier now that I've searched a bit through Igros Moshe.

Here is the original wording of the teshuva:

אבל פשוט שהוא רק כשלמדו כפי פירוש אמת שהוא כאחד מפירושי רבותינו הראשונים ולא בפירושים מאנשים דעלמא שרובן בדואים ואינם אמת והרבה יש גם כעין מגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה

Translation:

But it's simple that this is only when they learned according to a true commentary which is like one of the commentaries of our rabbis the Rishonim, and not with commentaries from ordinary people which are mostly made up and aren't truthful and many possess a form of megaleh panim baTorah shelo k'halacha.

This is to say that Rav Moshe wasn't limiting the ability to make a siyum on sifrei Tanach only to one who learned Tanach along with a commentary of the Rishonim, but also allowed room for one who studied Tanach along with a commentary that was "like" those written by the classic rishonim and were in the same spirit, as opposed the commentaries of a "plain old person" (likely with the maskillic tendencies that were prevalent within the 100 or so years prior to the teshuva).

So Rav Moshe allowed for meforshim that were more contemporary, but clung to the spirit of traditional interpretations that didn't veer away from the Torah and Halacha. In this way, commentaries like the Malbim, the Netziv's HaAmek Davar and some others (even before scanning through Rav Moshe's seforim) would seem to be in the like the Rishonim group vs. in the plain/maskillic/non-halachic group.

Upon review we actually can find the following places in Igros Moshe where Rav Moshe respectfully mentions the perush of the Malbim with honor:

  • In Chelek Kodshim v'Taharos printed at the end of Orach Chaim vol 1, in siman 2 he mentions a support from פירוש המלבי"ם
  • In Yoreh Deah vol 1, siman 192 he quotes Malbim's peirush throughout
  • In Orach Chaim vol 5, siman 38.7 he quotes the Malbim

Additionally, Rav Moshe treats the Netziv's העמק דבר with honor/respect:

  • In Chelek Kodshim v'Taharos printed at the end of Orach Chaim vol 1, toward the end of siman 10, he mentions a question on: ומה שהובא...בשם הגאון הנצי"ב בספרו העמק דבר
  • He also mentions the העמק דבר respectfully in Orach Chaim 3:69 and in Yoreh Deah 4:38.3

Final note - if one wants to flesh this out and get a fuller picture, it shouldn't be so hard to find phone numbers and email addresses for members of Rav Moshe's family and talmidim who had direct contact with Rav Moshe zt"l and likely heard his opinions on these matters in-person.

7
  • Thank you for doing the searches!
    – Shalom
    Apr 11, 2023 at 16:37
  • What a great idea to search his works for references to the Malbim. The big question is who Rav Moshe had in mind though? The "ordinary people" language doesn't seem to fit academic commentaries. It also doesn't seem to fit maskilim and I don't see the hava amina that Rav Moshe's audience is reading reform/maskil stuff. Could he mean Daat Mikra?
    – Avraham
    Apr 13, 2023 at 1:47
  • My sense is that by the wording "אנשים דעלמא" is vague, and one gets a better focus on the problematic commentaries where he describes them as "רובן בדואים ואינם אמת והרבה יש גם כעין מגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה". I have no idea how familiar he was with the peirush of the דעת מקרא series, but that series only began to be published 15 years after this 1956 teshuva was written - it is interesting to note that Feivel Meltzer, one of the primary editors of דעת מקרא, was a son of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer who was Rav Moshe's rosh yeshiva in Slutzk.
    – EraserX
    Apr 14, 2023 at 5:10
  • 1
    Thank you for pointing that out re: YD2:69. I just edited that out and will re-post if I find the correct location (I seem to remember an additional source). Re: "kosher Malbim", my main point above is that if the Malbim had ever written anything too "questionable" for Rav Moshe's tastes I would be surprised that R. Moshe would repeatedly quote "kosher Malbim's" with honor. In truth, I'm not a Rav Moshe expert and would suggest following the caveat I mention in the "Final note" section above. There are a # of people alive and well who had a strong connection w/R. Moshe. Try calling ;-)
    – EraserX
    May 7, 2023 at 19:26
  • 1
    @Shalom pretty sure Malbim on Haazinu is not really from him
    – Heshy
    May 8, 2023 at 0:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .