About two years ago, the idea occurred to me to try to make the Dor Revi’i, the classic commentary of my great-grandfather R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner on masekhet Hullin, accessible to those studying the daf yomi when the daf would reach Hullin. That time is now fast approaching.
Moshe Shmuel Glasner was the Chief Rabbi of Klausenburg for 44 years (1878-1922). An early Zionist, a founding father of Mizrachi, and a prolific posek and author on matters of halakhah and mahshavah, he is best known for his great work on Hullin and is often referred to by the title of that work. Published in 1921, Dor Revi’i was quickly recognized as a classic by Talmudical scholars the world over for its originality and its conceptual depth. A prominent student of R. Hutner related to me that his rebi (whose grave on Har ha-Zeitim lies next to that of my great-grandfather) used to tell students that Hullin cannot be understood properly unless it is studied with the Dor Revi’i.
There is far too much material in the Dor Revi’i for me to transmit on a blog in the just-under five months that it will take the daf yomi to work its way through Hullin. But, despite its limitations, I am hoping that the blog will be found a valuable resource by more than a few people as they follow the daf yomi through the masekhta, and by those working through Hullin in depth but lacking easy access to the Dor Revi’i.
The daf will start on November 28, so I am launching this blog several weeks in advance to allow time to present material from the very important petiha to the Dor Revi’i. The last week of Tishri seemed an especially auspicious time to begin this endeavor as the 94th yahrzeit of R. M. S. Glasner was on Shemini Atzeret, 22 Tishri; 24 Tishri is the 179th yahrzeit of the Hatam Sofer, his great-grandfather, (hence the title Dor Revi’i, about which I may have more to say in due course); and 29 Tishri is the 62nd yahrzeit of R. Akiva Glasner, his son (my grandfather) and successor as Chief Rabbi of Klausenburg.
So my plan for this blog between now and the time the daf begins Hullin is to summarize the 11 iqarim presented in the petiha to the Dor Revi’i. The petiha is not as well-known as the haqdamah to Dor Revi’i, perhaps one of the most important philosophical essays ever published on the significance and development of Torah she-ba’al peh (the Oral Law). The haqdamah also contains important hashkafic and ethical insights about Talmudic study, and is an important source of biographical information about R. M. S. Glasner and his father and mentor, R. Abraham Glasner. The late and sorely missed Professor Rabbi Yaakov Elman published an abridged translation of the haqdamah in Tradition in 1991, and I discussed it at some length in my 1997 Tradition article about R. M. S. Glasner.
But the petiha, in its own way, is as important and as original a work as the haqdamah, explaining the key hiddushim about the sources and derivation of the laws of shehitah and treiphot which are essential to a clear understanding of many sugyot of the masekhta. The seminal hiddush of the Dor Revi’i is that the masekhta hinges on the dispute between R. Akiva and R. Yishmael about the method(s) of slaughter practiced by the Israelites in the desert after the Revelation at Sinai:
R. Yishmael’s opinion is that, in the desert, the flesh of animals that could be brought as sacrifices in the Tabernacle could not be eaten unless those animals were brought first as sacrifices. In other words, b’sar ta’avah (meat consumed only to satisfy a desire to eat meat) was forbidden. R. Akiva disagrees and maintains that b’sar ta’avah was permitted, but that animals not brought as sacrifices had to be slaughtered not by the method of shehitah but by the alternative method of nehirah (the difference between shehitah and nehirah will be explained in the first iqar of the petihah). According to R. Akiva, the Israelites, while in the desert, performed nehirah on animals not brought as sacrifices, but this method was invalidated when they entered Eretz Yisrael; R. Yishmael maintains that shehitah was the only method of slaughter that had ever been valid.
As I hope will become clear as I post summaries of the 11 iqarim and as the masekhta unfolds over the next several months, the Dor Revi’i demonstrates time and again that a deep understanding of this dispute is key to clarifying many obscure sugyot throughout the masekhta.
After posting about the 11 iqarim, I will start to post the running commentary on the daf from the Dor Revi’i (source Hebrewbooks.org) making it available at least a day or two in advance of the daf yomi reaching each daf. Besides making the original text on the daf available, I will try to post occasional (I hope at least once a week) posts commenting on a specific topic of interest in the Dor Revi’i relating to material contemporaneously studied by the daf.
I encourage others who may be studying the Dor Revi’i, and wish to contribute, to comment on my own posts on the blog. Alternatively, those who are more ambitious and wish to submit longer comments of their own on relevant topics are encouraged to submit their posts to me, which I will be happy to publish as guest posts (subject, of course, to some light-handed editorial moderation). I can be reached at email@example.com.
With the help of the Dor Revi’i, may we together enhance our understanding of the Torah and the words of our Sages. Let us go and study.