OnegShabbos "North West London's Weekly Torah and Opinion Sheets
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4th April 15 "
Friday Night 1st Night Pesach YOM TOV IN 7.21 PMShabbos 2nd Night Pesach YOM TOV IN 8.30PM
10.18 ' 11.41 ''
Sunday Motsai First Days PesachYOM TOV OUT 8.32PM
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Quiz Time?? Answers can be found on back page. 1. What was Parohs excuse for not releasing the Jewish children?
Site of the Disputation in Barcelona (Inset: The seal of the Ramban)
RYViews from History A Seven Part Series
Rabbi Aubrey HershSenior lecturer & European Heritage tour guide : JLE
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S P O N S O R E D
Wishing Klal Yisroel a
Rabbeinu Moshe ben Nachman "A walk through the ancient Jewish quarter in Barcelona, takes you past houses and through streets which date back over six centuries, and though Jewish life was brought to an abrupt end in 1391 (rather than 1492) the area still reflects the fact the 20% of the citys population was once Jewish. During the era of the Rishonim it was home to the Rashba, Sefer Hachinuch and Ran amongst others, but one building the palace of King James I is linked resolutely to one name: the Ramban.
Born in 1194 in Girona (Gerundi) a town just north of Barcelona where his cousin
- and eventual mechutan - Rabbeinu Yona, was the rov, he became the leader of Spanish Jewry, and his writings span all areas of pshat, halacha and kabbala
Surprisingly, his rebbe in limmud haTalmud was one of the Ashkenazi baalei tosfos: Rav Yehuda ben
Yakkar (whom he refers to as ), whereas in Kabbalah, his rabbeiim who were from
Girona, were talmidim of of Provence
The Ramban did not compose a halachic sefer in the format of the Rif or Rambam, but is nevertheless one of the most quoted Rishonim in Tur and Shulchan Aruch. In addition, a number of his teshuvos are to be found in the Sefer Hatrumos of Rav Shmuel Hasardi (who was a Talmid-Chaver) and from which it is also clear that by the age of 30, the Ramban had already written many of his chiddushim on Shas.
However his best known sefer is al Hatorah, in which he quotes (and often disagrees) with 3 Rishonim: Rashi, Ibn Ezra & Rambam. It is also there that he introduces the idea of Maseh Avos Siman Lebonim (whose origins can be traced to a Yerushalmi in Taanis).
One of his more public roles came about in the 1230s, when he was written to by Rabbeinu Shlomo min HaHar (Montpelier), who expressed great concern that
the use of allegory in describing Hashem in Moreh Nevuchim was dangerous. As a result, the Ramban wrote to the kehillos of Aragon, Navarre & Castile (who sided strongly with the Rambams sefer), making clear the great respect he had for the Rambam, yet expressing reservations about the Moreh. He also wrote to the Chachmei Ashkenaz (who took the opposite point of view) advising them to moderate their responses, given the obvious greatness of the Rambam, as was seen from his Mishne Torah. Over the next few years, he attempted to temper the machlokes, with some degree of success.
His most courageous role though, was when he was forced to represent the Jews of Spain alone - at the Disputation of Barcelona in 1263, after an apostate Jew called Pablo Christiani convinced King James I, to order a response to charges against Judaism. The dispute took place in the Royal palace between 20th and 27thJuly and was conducted either in Latin or Catalan and two (differing) accounts survive one from the church and one from the Ramban.
Conventional history records the Disputation as a triumph for the Jews, and whilst it is true that after the first 3 sessions, most of the points of debate had been successfully refuted by the Ramban, (to the degree that the King awarded him three hundred gold pieces as a mark of respect), yet the King still insisted that the church be allowed to preach the truth in shuls and as a result, came in person to the Great Synagogue of Barcelona on Shabbos 4th August with a retinue of church figures, where he gave a speech proving that Oisoi Haish was
the redeemer (In kisvei Haramban, the response given to the Jews is recorded).
The Dominicans, therefore claimed victory, and to prove otherwise, the Ramban felt obligated to publish the text of the four debates. From this publication Christiani selected certain passages as blasphemies against Christianity and the Ramban was sentenced to two years in exile and his pamphlet condemned to be burned. The church found this punishment to be too mild and through Pope Clement IV succeeded in banishing the Ramban from Spain. He travelled to Yerushalayim in 1267, where he found tremendous desolation (which he describes in a letter to his son) after its annihilation by the Crusaders. Only 2 Jews were living there - out of 2,000 inhabitants but he re-established Jewish life in Yerushalayim and built a shul which still exists (in part).
The Ramban died on 11th Nissan 5030 (1270) but it is unclear where he is buried. Some say it is near Har HaCarmel, others point out that he wrote to his son saying he intended going to Chevron to choose a place for kevura, whereas yet others argue that his kever is in Yerushalayim.
2Tremendous care has to be taken during the production of Matzos that there should be no contact with water before or during the kneading process, for the nature of water and even spit, tears or beads of sweat is to cause wheat to be , to ferment. Once the have been baked however, there is no need for concern1 since the flour has already been baked in the furnace and no longer has the potential to become 2. For this reason many people eat and enjoy
Gebroktz i.e. which have come into contact with water after having been baked. This could be in the form of cakes, made from matzo-meal mixed with water, kneidlach3 etc.
There are however many among who dare not eat Gebroktz, some even refraining from cooking in the same pots that have previously been used for them. Their concern is that although flour which has been kneaded and baked cannot subsequently become even if it comes in contact with liquid, perhaps there are particles of flour inside the which were never properly kneaded or baked, and these particles will now ferment when coming into contact with water. Similarly, -bakeries very often have tiny particles of flour in the air which may settle on the ready baked , and these could still become . Although these may sound like farfetched theories or worries, and do anything not to even have the remote possibility of getting caught up in the prohibition of .
Those who eat Gebroktz are not concerned with these remote possibilities4, especially5 as the says that even if the flour has not been kneaded nevertheless if it is exposed to the intense heat of the oven it cannot subsequently become . However it could be that this is true only with regard to the flour particles which lay on the surface of the ; those particles which are inside the are not exposed directly to the intense heat of the fire and may perhaps still become upon contact with water.
[It should be noted that the fine white dust-like particles which are commonly found on the surface of hand baked are in fact not flour at all, rather ash from the burnt logs of wood which are used to heat the furnaces. These particles of ash are floating around the air of the -bakery and often cling to the ].
Over the generations6, there has developed this clear division amongst , those who eat gebroktz and those who dont. Clearly, the primary goal of both camps is to adhere to the as best they possibly can. Those who are on the NO camp are worried about the slight chance of the flour become , as explained, whereas the YES camp are concerned that this prohibition would severely restrict the choice of foods one can consume on since many many foods are made with gebroktz. is a Biblical commandment, and perhaps one stands to lose more than one may gain by forbidding the consumption of all these foods7.
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2 This is with the exception of the matzo one is eating on Seder night either for or for regarding these, one must be able to taste the and therefore one may not soak the in water or other liquid. A sick or elderly person who has difficulty chewing dry should consult with their Rov. 3 "
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Obviously those who have the , the custom of refraining from eating Gebroktz must continue to keep their and may not abuse it. Someone however who grew up with the to eat Gebroktz should not be quick to accept upon himself the stringency of not eating it without discussing the issue with his Rov since it may perhaps come at a Halachic price. It is for this reason that there have been many and throughout the generations8 who did not refrain from eating gebroktz.
Amongst those who do not eat gebroktz, there are various customs as to how far to take this stringency. Some only refrain from eating the gebroktz themselves while others will not even cook in the same pot or eat on the same plate which has previously been used for gebroktz-food.
Some are prepared to dip the in liquid and eat i