Before I begin, what I am about to write has absolutely no relevance to Halacha. None.
I recently gave one example (here)of a Rishon who took R. Meir’s explanation for Hilchot Niddah as normative rather than homiletic. I was reminded by a friend (h/t Shaya) of a radical position in the Achronim that takes this farther. Again, R. Meir argues that the laws of Niddah and the distance created are supposed to increase the desire a husband has for his wife. On the basis of this, the Toras HaShelamim toys with the possibility that the laws of Niddah would not apply Continue reading Homiletics or Halacha: Another Radical Example from Niddah
Another example relates to a famous statement by R. Meir about the issur of Niddah.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדה דף לא עמוד ב
תניא, היה ר”מ אומר: מפני מה אמרה תורה נדה לשבעה – מפני שרגיל בה, וקץ בה, אמרה תורה: תהא טמאה שבעה ימים, כדי שתהא חביבה על בעלה כשעת כניסתה לחופה.
R. Meir asks why a Niddah is assurah to her husband for seven days. He answers that the Torah wanted to separate them for seven days so that when they are together again “she will be as beloved to her husband as he was she got married.” R. Meir can either be understand as explaining why there is a notion of separating for Niddah at all, or why the issur formulated as it was – as seven days with all the laws that go along with, regardless of when she stops bleeding. [Separating during menstruation was relatively common in many ancient cultures. The specific laws of Niddah are more of a chiddush than the basic notion of separation.] Either way, he offers an explanation for the laws of Niddah.
The simplest understanding is that this is homiletic/philosophical, but has no normative value. For example, there is no obligation to be a Niddah for a week every month, and if someone uses hormones to minimize how often she is a Niddah, that is fine. There is no obligation to create this distance that makes the heart grow fonder.
However, there was one Rishon (that I know of) who thought it did have (quasi-)normative value. Continue reading Homiletics or Halacha: An Example from Niddah
I always find it fascinating when seemingly aggadic statements become the basis of Halachic argumentation. An interesting example that I just came across appears concerning the topic of eglah arguah. The Gemara in Sotah asks why the eglah arufah ritual is done with a childless calf in a barren valley. It answers that something that has borne no fruit brought in a place that bears no fruit will come to atone for the person who was killed and can no longer produce fruit. The Gemara then questions what fruit are being referred to. It rejects the possibility that it refers to children, as logically that would dictate that an elderly or impotent person who was killed would not obligate the bringing of an eglah arufah. Thus, the Gemara concludes that the killed person is no longer able to perform mitzvoth. Continue reading Homiletics or Halacha: An Example from Eglah Arufah