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Dreams and Holy Names

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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 Dreams and Holy Names

On Monday night, the 29th of Tishrei in the year 1825 near the border of Poland and Prussia, R’ Yitzchak Katz, R’ Chaim Yudel Segel and R’ Avraham Bar R’ Meir set out together on a boat. Tragically, the boat sank after getting hit by a storm. The next day one of them appeared in a dream to his mother and told her that the bodies of these three people who drowned could be found under a rock in a tunnel on the seabed and they all already passed away.


The gedolim debated whether it was possible to rely on the dreamer’s testimony or if it was considered prophecy which the Torah says לא בשמים היא, it is not in heaven,[1] and you cannot decide halacha based on it. R’ Aryeh Leib Tzintz[2] (1768-1833) was asked this question and he was matir. As partial support, he cited the testimony from the dream. R’ Tuvya Guttentag[3] (1882-1953) strongly opposed this ruling predicated on the fact that you cannot be matir an aguna through prophecy like the Torah says לא בשמים היא.


In a different episode discussing the same principle, R’ Akiva Yosef Schlesinger[4] (1836-1922) writes that R’ Naftali Katz, author of the sefer Semichas Chachamim, was matir an aguna through one of the Sheimos of the Sheimos Hakedoshim, Holy names of Hashem, which he threw into the sea and dry land, where if the husband was living, he would need to come. The gedolim protested this because how is it possible to clarify such a thing through Sheimos Hakedoshim. It is similar to prophecy about which it says לא בשמים היא, like R’ Dovid Tevel,[5] the famed student of R’ Chaim Volozhiner, discussed at length about, among other Achronim.

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R’ Schlesinger disagrees and says that that which the gedolim protested about using the Sheimos Hakedoshim is specifically to rely on Divrei Nevius (words of prophecy) without clarifying the reality. However, where there is knowledge lacking and through the Sheimos, the reality is clarified that the husband did indeed die, that’s not called words of prophecy and has no connection to לא בשמים היא.

[1] Devarim 30:12. See Gittin 52a.

[2] In his sefer Shu”t Meshivas Nafesh, Volume 1, Siman 35. He is also known as the Maharal Tzintz and the Plotzker Gaon. His father was R’ Moshe Eibshitz, who was the nephew of R’ Yehonasan Eibshitz.

[3] Ateres Tuvya in the Hashmata on the Rambam, Hilchos Gerushin, 13:23. Later, R’ Guttentag Hebraicized his last name to Tavyumi. R’ Guttentag was a student of the Avnei Nazer and moved to Tel Aviv in 1935. In one of his many writings, he writes: “These comments were written in the city of Kolshek, in 1903, in my stay there for a few days while in hiding from the ambushing Russians who were searching for me to conscript me to the army.”

[4] In his sefer Beis Yosef Chadash p. 77b. Otzar Plaos Hatorah, Devarim, pp. 879-880. As a child, R’ Schlesinger was wakened by his grandfather at midnight to mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. He attended four years of elementary school, learning to read and write German and mastering mathematics. In 1857, the Kesav Sofer gave him semicha, noting that “his fear of G-d precedes his wisdom,” and entrusted him with tutoring his own son and future successor, R’ Simcha Bunim. In 1870, R’ Schlesinger moved to Eretz Yisrael. He rebukes his former countrymen on their aversion to move to Eretz Yisrael, by mentioning the fact that the Shelah, hundreds of years earlier, moved to Eretz Yisrael although it took him a year to. “Today it is easy. The government gives anyone who wants a pass and on the fast ships and rail it takes a mere ten days.” In his sefer, Beis Yosef Chadash, which is on the Beis Yosef, he discusses an enormous problem and attempts to find a satisfactory answer. At that time in Russia there was forced conscription for a 25-year period, where some people were taken as young as 8. Consequently, some would flee Russia and move to Eretz Yisrael to avoid this. At times, their wives refused to come. R’ Schlesinger, therefore, discusses the possibility of getting around the ban of Rabbeinu Gershon of not marrying more than one wife. Another matter R’ Schlesinger advocated for was the revival of the Karbon Pesach on the Har Habayis. One of the sefarim R’ Schlesinger is known for is the Lev Haivri (עיברי is an acronym for his name עקיבא יוסף בן ר‘ יחיאל), a commentary on the last will and testament of the Chassam Sofer (His father, R’ Yechiel, was a student of the Chassam Sofer).

[5] In his sefer Beis Dovid, 23.

Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français
Author of Six Books including the recently released “Dazzling Money Insights: Illuminating Torah Essays about Money”

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