Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Even Eliyahu…

The Satmar Rav, zt”l, teaches a powerful lesson from a surprising statement of our sages. “In Menachos 32 we find that if Eliyahu were to come and say that we may not use a soft shoe to do chalitzah we would not heed him since the custom is to use a soft shoe. This seems very difficult to understand. We would not listen to Eliyahu since our custom of many centuries should not be changed, and it would be wrong for him to come and try to change it. Yet if it should not be changed, why would Eliyahu say that we should change it? Surely he would refrain from telling us to do anything incorrect. So what is the point of this statement? Surely not merely to record a scenario that could never happen? “The answer is that the gemara also knew that Eliyahu would never tell us such a thing. But it also understood that even a gadol hador could err and believe that the custom is in error. Of course the entire Jewish world would likely follow this gadol, even if he is mistaken. It is to avoid such an error that the gemara writes that we would not even believe Eliyahu if he told us to change an old custom that was established by the consensus of gedolei Yisrael. “For this reason the gemara puts it unequivocally that we would believe no one, not even Eliyahu. This way even a gadol hador who errs won’t mislead people who have learned this lesson. If one considers this he will understand much that cannot be written explicitly…”

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