Monday, September 14, 2009

Closer and Majority

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary here.

Rabbi Chanina maintains that when the principles of rov, the majority, and karov, close in proximity, conflict with each other, then we follow the principle of majority. And although both principles are of scriptural origin, the principle of majority is superior.

Reb Shmuel Rozovsky is uncertain as to why we would follow that which is “closer.” Is it because that this is a method which clarifies the doubt, for it is more probable that it came from the “closer”? Or perhaps, the probability of coming from the “closer” is just as likely as if it was coming from the “further,” except that there is a halachah that we follow that which is “closer.”

This can be proven from that which Rabbi Chanina said that when there is a conflict between the “majority” and that which is “closer,” we follow the “closer.” If “majority” and “closer” are both logics that clarify to us that which was uncertain, Rabbi Chanina’s halachah would be understandable, for he would be informing us that the clarifier from the fact that it is closer is superior then the clarifier emerging from the majority.

However, the Tosfos HaRosh in Bava Metzia (66b) writes that when we follow a majority that is before us (such as a piece of meat, where we are uncertain if it came from one of the nine stores selling kosher meat, or the one store selling non-kosher meat), that is not because the majority verifies for us that the meat in question came from the kosher shop; rather ,it is the Torah’s law that we follow the majority. Accordingly, if we would say that the logic of following the “closer” is on account of clarification, it would certainly be stronger than a mere “majority.” This proves that following the “closer” is also a Torah law and not based on logic.

If so, the question begs to be asked: How does Rabbi Chanina know that we follow the “closer” and not the “majority”? If they are both halachos without any logic, why is one superior that the other?

He answers that even though they are both halachos and not verifiers, they are distinct from each other. When we follow the majority, the majority resolves the uncertainty. Although the doubt rests before us, the majority is a decider. However, when we follow the ”closer,” it doesn’t resolve the uncertainty at all; it merely tells us that we should not search any longer for where this doubtful item comes from - since we can attribute it to that which is closer. However, when that which is closer conflicts with a majority, it is impossible to assert that the object did not come from that which is further (for the majority tells us that it did); it therefore reverts back to an ordinary case of uncertainty, where we would rule according to the majority.