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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 02:23:25 -0400 (EDT) Subject: RE: Gematriahs A thread was started some time back on following laws whose alleged reason was a gematria (a numerical association of letters). During this thread I brought a Malbim to show that we need not believe that any Talmudic laws are based on gematria. Avi Feldblum responds >>> I do not see that you support in any way that Alex has incorrectly argued. Alex has brought a clear Gemarah that can be easily explained as Alex has assumed. You have brought one acharon that interpret's that Gemarah differently. I can see that you may want to hold like the Malbim, and therefore hold the opinion that there is no gemarah that rules based on a gematria, but I cannot see any validity at all in questioning someone else who choses to intrepret the gemarah as it is written to indicate that we pasken based on a gematria. >>> Avi is right--I have left an important point out of my argument: Namely, that Gematria is intrinsically not a valid method of derivation because you can derive anything you want. All I have to do is find a sentence whose numerical value equals some word or phrase and I have a prohibition. Consequently Gematria is not a logical method. By contrast the other methods of Talmudic derivation (like the rules of style of GENERAL-PARTICULAR) even though they may be complex and poorly understood nevertheless, do have guidelines and rules and can only be applied in specific circumstances Nevertheless even though Gematria is TOO FLEXIBLE to be a rule **IF** the Talmud had used it consistently then I would be hesitant to criticize it. It is for this reason that I brought the Malbim--the Malbim showed that on those rare occasions that Gematria seems to be used it actually is not. Thus in summary my point is the following: (a) Gematria is TOO FLEXIBLE to be a logical method of derivation--you can derive anything with it(b)there are very few gematrias in the Talmud (c) furthermore there is reason to suspect (a la Malbim) whether gematria was EVER used. Based on the above I reopen my question whether we should explain a law in the SA whose source is non talmudic on the basis of a a Gematria (the reference is to eating nuts on Rosh Hashana--in previous threads we tried to argue that the reasons were because of digestive discomfort) Russell Jay Hendel;Phd ASA Moderator Rashi is SImple http://www.RashiYomi.Com/