Follow the discussion from this week’s daf! Can a tzaddik pasken halacha based on ruach hakodesh? Do chazlal view graphology as a valid way to know someone’s characteristics?
מעשה ברבן גמליאל שהיה רוכב על החמור והיה מהלך מעכו לכזיב, והיה רבי אילעאי מהלך אחריו. מצא גלוסקין בדרך אמר לו אילעאי טול גלוסקין מן הדרך מצא גוי אחד אמר לו מבגאי, טול גלוסקין הללו מאילעאי ניטפל לו רבי אילעאי אמר לו: מהיכן אתה? אמר לו מעיירות של בורגנין. ומה שמך מבגאי שמני. כלום היכירך רבן גמליאל מעולם? אמר לו לאו
אותה שעה למדנו שכוון רבן גמליאל ברוח הקודש. ושלשה דברים למדנו באותה שעה: למדנו שאין מעבירין על האוכלין. ולמדנו שהולכין אחרי רוב עוברי דרכים. ולמדנו שחמצו של גוי אחר הפסח מותר בהנאה. (דף סד:)
The Gemara tells us about a story with Rabban Gamliel, who was riding a donkey and traveling from Akko to Keziv, and his student Rabbi Elai was walking behind him. Rabban Gamliel found some fine loaves of bread on the road, and he said to his student: to give it to a gentile called Mavgai. Rabbi Elai asked the gentile if he ever met Rabban Gamliel, to which he said that he did not. Rabbi Elai saw from this that his rebbe had ruach hakodesh, for otherwise how did he know this person’s name.
Furthermore, the Gemara tells us a few Halachos we can learn from this and one of them is that we can go after the majority of travelers. This is why in this case Rabban Gamliel did not keep the bread for himself as he assumed since the majority of travelers are gentiles therefore the bread is prohibited to a Jew.
The Chida asks how are we able to derive from Rabban Gamliel’s actions that we go after the majority of travelers. Perhaps we do not go after the majority, however as Rabban Gamliel had ruach hakodesh and knew that in reality, this bread was from a gentile. Which is why he did not keep the bread for himself. For we have already established that Rabban Gamliel had ruach hakodesh. The same question can be asked about the other laws we learn from this story. How do we know that chometz of a gentile is permitted after Pesach? Maybe Rabban Gamliel saw with ruach hakodesh that it was baked after Pesach?
Rabbi Eliyashuv (Shabbos 85.) answers that although Rabban Gamliel had ruach hakodesh, he was not able to use it to base his Halachic rulings. Since the Torah tells us that the Torah is not in heaven and that is the reason why we do not rely on a “bas kol” to tell us what the halacha is. Since we cannot use any form of assistance from Heaven to tell us what the halacha is, the halacha must be decided based on our understanding. For this reason as well even if a Rabbi can see with ruach hakodesh what the facts are, he cannot use them to tell us what the halacha is. As that would mean he is using guidance from Heaven to tell us what the halacha is. If so, when Rabban Gamliel did not allow the bread for Jew we know that he must have based his halacha on other factors besides his ruach hakodesh.
This question if one can rely on ruach hakodesh for Halacha or not, is a well discussed question amongst the poskim with various different opinions on both sides. One interesting idea to mention is the following one from the Klausenberger Rebbe.
The Klausenberger Rebbe mentions the Gemara in Chagigah (12.):
Rabbi Elazar said: The light that the Hashem created on the first day was not that of the sun but a different kind of light, through which man could observe from one end of the world to the other. But when Hashem looked upon the dor of the mabul and the dor haflogeh and saw that their ways were corrupt and that they might misuse this light for evil, He arose and concealed it from them, as it says: “And from the wicked their light is withheld”.
And for whom did He conceal it? For the righteous people in the future, as it says: “And Hashem saw the light, that it was good”, and “good” is referring to none other than the righteous, as it is stated: “Say of the righteous that it shall be good for them.
The Rebbe quotes an idea that is brought by many of the Chassidic Seforim, that this light can be accessed by any tzaddik who learns Torah for the sake of heaven. If he reaches that great level then they can merit to see this light.
If that is the case, says the Klausenberger Rebbe, then if a tzaddik uses this light to see what the halacha should be, he would be able to rely on it for halacha. For though generally one cannot rely on ruach hakodesh to tell us what the halacha is, in the same way, we cannot use a bas kol to tell us what the halacha is, since the Torah is not in Heaven. That is by the normal ruach hakodesh, where one uses the ruach hakodesh to enable him to know the facts without seeing them, by being informed from heaven what the facts are. However, there is a level of ruach hakodesh, where one uses the Hidden Light that was created on the first day. If he uses that light, then he is physically able to see what the facts are, as this supernatural light allows him to see much more than what a normal person can see with normal light. Since this is ultimately a physical way to see the facts, one would be able to use this vision even in the case of Halacha.
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אדם ניכר בכוסו בכיסו ובכעסו (דף סה:)
In a conversation between the Pnei Menachem of Ger and the Tolner Rebbe, the topic of graphology was raised. They discussed among themselves if one can rely on this art, and can it really be that one’s personality characteristics can be evaluated based on their writing. The Tolner Rebbe mentioned that one time they showed a letter of the Chofetz Chaim to a seasoned graphologist and asked him what he says about this person who wrote it? He answered that based on the person’s writing he can see that the person who wrote it was someone with very bad characteristics traits. No this is obviously impossible to believe! How can it be said on the saintly Chofetz Chaim that he had bad characteristics traits? Now obviously we cannot disprove the science based on one person’s mistakes. But it would be interesting to make a study where various different gedolim’s writings are analyzed and evaluated. This may give us some interesting results and may provide us with a different perspective on how graphology is viewed.
A further proof to discredit graphology was brought from our Gemara. The Gemara mentions that one can see what type a person is based on the following three ways. Koso- meaning how he acts when he drinks wine. Keso- how he acts when it comes to his money. Kaso- how he acts when he gets upset. Now if graphology is true science, then why did Chazal not mention Ksavo as well? Meaning that we can tell what type a person he is based on his handwriting.
However the Tolner Rebbe disregarded this proof, since the Gemara only mentions different ways which even a layman can recognize the personality characteristics of a person. The reading of a handwriting is only something that can be done by a professional and therefore not included.
Perhaps another reason may be given why we can disregard this proof for the following reason. The Gemara only mentions scenarios in which a certain action happens which does not occur all the time. It is at that time the Gemara says where when we see how the person reacts to these actions that we can really see what type of person they are. For instance, if he drinks wine and he becomes violent and aggressive, then we can see that in reality he is a violent person even though usually he may look calm. The handwriting of a person is not reactionary, it does not continually change based on the action he does. It is therefore not similar to the other three items that Chazal mentions.