Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

Against the Shulchan Aruch: The Critique of the Maharshal by Shlomo Brody

July 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Halakha, New Posts

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo caused a small tempest of controversy in a recent essay calling for greater autonomous religiosity.  Without commenting on his larger and more radical thesis, his citation of the Maharshal and his critique of the codification of halakha was noteworthy, as R’ Cardozo became the latest of a long string of historical figures who asserted that codification strangles halakhic innovation and flexibility.  (The most prominent figure in recent times to raise this mantra was Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits).   Rabbi Shlomo Luria (1510-1574) stands as one of the 16th century’s most fascinating yet neglected figures, for while his erudition is readily acknowledged, his works have been largely overshadowed by the codes of his contemporaries, Rabbi Yosef Karo and Rabbi Moshe Isserles.  In this essay, we will examine his introductions to his seminal Talmudic commentary, Yam Shel Shlomo, and investigate his halakhic methodology and opposition to the codification of halakha.[1]

Critique of Codification:  No Code is Self-Sufficient

Maharshal’s primary criticism of the codification process attacks its underlying assumption that any scholar can create a self-sufficient work that will resolve all halakhic disputes.  No method of analysis and interpretation exists to firmly settle lingering difficulties.  Other scholars will undoubtedly read precedents differently and challenge innovative ideas.  Furthermore, such a code will complicate matters by creating a new text whose intent and meaning later scholars will debate.  As Luria writes,[2]

שאי אפשר שלא יפול ספיקות ושינוים ועומק הדעת בהוספה ראשונה. עד שתגיע הוספה שנייה לאלף אלפים כמותם. כלל הדבר, אמר החכם והודיע, שאינו בנמצא מן האפשרות להודיע ולבאר כל ספיקות התורה מבלי (חלוקת) [חילוקים] עד סוף שתהא ידו של אדם מגעת, אי אפשר…

Codes generate commentaries, since human language and intellect cannot produce a work of eternal, unambiguous meaning.

Luria cites the canonization of the Oral Law as a precedent for the impossibility of composing a definitive code.  When makhloket emerged between the houses of Hillel and Shamai, and propagated itself amongst later tana’im, Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi composed the Mishna to prevent the law from splitting into “two Torot.”  Yet their initial impression of success was dashed as the amoraim debated how to interpret the Mishna, creating an enormous body of debate and disagreement in the Talmud.  As Maharshal describes,

…עד שהיה נראה לו ולחכמים שעשו דבר מספיק בזמנו. ומחמת אותה ההסופה נתרבה יותר ההוספה. מחמת שנפל מחלוקות בין חכמי האמוראי’…

Ravina and Rav Ashi’s compilation impressively captured the depths and nuances of the debates, yet provided no firm halakhic resolution.  The Talmud’s complex discussions sometimes remain cryptic, while apparent decisions contradict other passages.  Moreover, even these great sages, with all their brilliance and erudition, were unable to cope with the Mishna’s vastness, leaving the orders of Zeraim and Taharot nearly untouched.[3] Codification of the oral law, as Talmud shows, remains not just elusive, but impossible.

Luria’s citation of the Mishna’s failure to resolve halakhic dispute directly challenges the codification processes esteemed by Rambam and R’ Yosef Karo.  As is well known, both Maimonides and R’ Karo cited Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi as precedents for their codes.  They used the Mishna as an example of a code that unified halakha and prevented legal practice from splintering in a time of geopolitical crisis.  Maimonides, moreover, contended that the Talmud, as a book of interpretation, resolved lingering debates found in the Mishna, making it possible to definitively codify the law.[4] The Mishna proved to these two great codifiers of the ability, and even necessity, of unifying halakha and preventing its splintering into “two torot.”

In Praise of Makhloket and Rabbinic Independence

For Luria, however, the Talmud not only proves the futility of the Mishnah’s project, but also positively perceives the plurality of voices within the halakhic tradition.  One should not fear makhloket, since each opinion represents one of the different facets of Torah.  Maharshal subsequently cites a number of Talmudic sources that embrace halakhic pluralism, claiming that stem from the same source of authority and represent the word of God. Subsequently, opinions derived solely from rational thought retain the same stature as halakhot le-Moshe mi-Sinai.  Luria even cites a Kabbalistic teaching that each sage derives his opinion from personal “channels” (tzinorot) to Sinai.[5] In addition to its infeasibility, the codification of halakha represents an undesirable repression of the plurality of Torah.

Maharshal, of course, recognizes the attempts of different groups of scholars, beginning with the Geonim, who attempted to extrapolate normative rulings from the Talmud.  Rambam’s Mishneh Torah in particular deserves tremendous praise for its comprehensiveness and clarity.  Yet following a distinguished strand of rishonim, he chastises Rambam’s failure to cite his sources as the Achilles heel of his project.  Without proofs for his ruling, his work fails to compel the reader to follow his opinion.  The Tosafists greatly contributed to our understanding of the Talmud, especially by their project of harmonizing seemingly conflicting passages. Yet their interpretations sometimes fall short, and they themselves frequently disagree with each other, recognizing the difficulty of deciphering the cryptic Talmudic passages.  Others like Ramban and Rosh wrote great works, consequently turning the Torah into “613 torot” with the multiplicity of interpretations.

Maharshal emulates the independence of these figures, and urges contemporary scholars to follow their lead in analyzing the texts for themselves.  He describes his predecessors as assuming full prerogative to adjudicate the law.

וכל אחד בונה במה לעצמו. וכאילו כף מאזני צד”ק בידו, ובשקל הקודש הוא שוקל, ומכריע כלפי כף זכותו.

So too must the contemporary posek join this pluralistic tradition and follow his own interpretation of the Torah.

על כן מסר התורה לחכמים השתולים בכל דור, כל אחד ואחד לפי חוצב מקור שכלו. לחלק לעילוי ולהוסיף, כפי מה שיראו לו מן השמים, ואם בא לטהר יסייעו לו. בריך רחמנא דיהיב חכמתא לחכימין:

Maharshal does not believe that one should ignore earlier commentators.  He chides Rambam for ignoring the French sages, while commending Ramban for recognizing the genius of the Ashkenazic interprets.[6] He extols utilizing all available resources to properly analyze the text.  Yet ultimately, the sage must rule according to his own insight.  This insight echoes, albeit with important differences, the claim later stressed by R’ Chaim ben Bezalel (in his Vikuach Mayim Chaim) that codification stymies the dynamic process in which the posek applies the law to each unique case according to his own perception.

The Exclusive Authority of the Talmud, Against Pshat and Rishonim

The interpretation of the Talmud serves as the central factor for Luria’s psak halakha. As he succinctly yet forcefully writes, התלמוד הוא המכריע, וראייות ברורות יצדקו ויתנו עדיהן.   Searching for the true meaning of the text (לחקור אחר שורש העניין), the scholar must allow for no preconceived notions or prejudices toward certain interpreters to bias his read.  Luria testifies that he spent days upon days on one single sugya until his understanding of it reached his satisfaction.  The necessary dedication of understanding any sugya also presents an additional reason for the imprudence of codification.  To complete the project, one will sacrifice clarity and accuracy.[7] In his second hadkamah to Hulin, Luria himself admits the yoke of comprehensive study overwhelms him and hinders his ability to complete his project.  He furthermore fears that God will hold him responsible for not helping the larger public by bringing his project to fruition.  Nonetheless, he remains steadfast in his ways, contending that depth and precision take primacy in uncovering the truth of the Talmud.

The primacy Luria attributes to the Talmud helps explain his harsh and seemingly out-of-place criticism of R. Abraham ibn Ezra.[8] Maharshal castigates Ibn Ezra in the context of his critique of Sephardim who rely entirely upon the rulings of Rambam.  Luria casts aspersion on Rambam’s halakhic integrity for advocating Ibn Ezra’s philosophical project, which Luria himself deemed problematic.  Part of this criticism relates to Luria’s anti-philosophical positions, well known from his famous debates with Rema.[9] Yet Luria specifically targets Ibn Ezra because was not a Talmudist and frequently interpreted verses in different ways than the accepted halakhic tradition.[10]

אין הולכין אחר פירושיו, לא לחיוב ולא לפטור, לא לאסור ולא להתיר. כי עשה כמה פעמים נגד ההלכה, אפילו נגד חכמי המשנה, ונגד אמוראי התלמוד בלי מספר.

Ibn Ezra thus represents a tremendous threat to the authority of the Talmud, and Luria reproaches him for lending support, albeit unintentionally, to non-believers.  His criticism of Ibn Ezra serves as an appropriate way to highlight the dangers of refusing the Talmud’s authority.

The focus of Maharshal’s criticism, however, lies upon those who accept the authority of the Talmud yet rely upon a pre-determined group of rishonim for authoritative interpretations of the Talmud.  As Menachem Elon,[11] Yisrael Ta-Shma,[12] and others have noted, Luria’s refusal to prejudice himself toward any set of rishonim distinguishes himself from late medieval Ashkenazic poskim like Maharik and R. Moshe Isserles.  These scholars employed the rule of hilkheta ke-vatra’ei (the law follows the later authority) to rely on later sages and free themselves from the authority of earlier rishonim.  Maharshal, however, denounces all partisan affinities, contending that intellectual insights alone drive halakhic interpretation.

Independence vs. Hilcheta ke-vatra’ei & Local Opinions?

Yet as Meir Raffeld has shown, Luria does recall the principle of hilkheta ke-vatra’ei in several places within Yam Shel Shlomo.[13] Given Luria’s insistence on juridical independence, Raffeld questions the propriety of Luria employing a legal principle that seemingly overrides textual interpretation.  He reasons that Luria felt it was sometimes legitimate to use this principle because the Talmud itself employs such logic in its own rulings.  With the Talmud’s approbation, one can employ this principle without undermining Talmudic authority.

Yet even within the hakdamot of Yam Shel Shlomo, Luria appears to waver with another common judicial principle: ruling in accordance with the local authorities.  In his initial introduction, he strongly criticizes Sephardic and Ashkenazic poskim alike for blindly following the rulings of their region’s sages.

אבל מצאתי בתשובות הרא”ש, שכתב, שהאיש ר’ משה בר מיימו”ן גדול היה מאוד בכל החכמות, מ”מ כשהוא חולק עם ר”ת ור”י שלא לשמוע אליו, אלא לילך אחרי בעלי התוספות. כי קבלה בידו, שר”ת ור”י הצרפתים היו גדולים בחכמה ובמניין יותר מן הרמב”ם. ומתוך זה ניתן לבעל דין לחלוק, ולומר קים לי כחד מנהון, הספרדי כספרדים הצרפתי כצרפתים, וכל אחד בורר את שלו. ועם ועם כלשונו. וסובר התורה ירושה היא למשפחות. ולא זו הדרך ולא זו העיר. כי מימות רבינא ורב אשי אין קבלה לפסוק כאחד מן הגאונים, או מן האחרונים. אלא מי שיכשרו דבריו, להיותן מיוסדים במופת חותך על פי התלמוד והירושלמי. ותוספתא, במקום שאין הכרע בתלמוד

Luria lambastes this partisan method, contending that even the greatest of sages err in their readings of the Talmud.

אבל האמונה, באמונת שמים, שהוכחתי כמה פעמים, בפרט מן הפוסקים האחרונים, שטעו בכמה מקומות מן התלמוד. כאחד מן התלמידים הטועים, בענין עיון הלכה. על כן שמתי פני כחלמיש. ואומר אמרתי בני עליון כולהון, אכן כאדם ידרושון. ולכן לא אאמין לשום אחד מן המחברים יותר מחבירו. אף שיש הכרע גדול בין מעלותם, למי שמורגל בהם בעיון רב. מכל מקום התלמוד הוא המכריע, וראייות ברורות יצדקו ויתנו עדיהן. ולפעמים מחבר אחד כיון ההלכה, ולא מטעמיה.

To get to the truth of the Torah, logical argument and interpretation must determine the validity of the opinion.

Yet in his second hakdamah to Hulin, Luria seemingly modifies his position and notes the halakhic significance of local authorities. In chastising contemporary young rabbis for blindly following the Shulchan Aruch, he lambastes them for ignoring the local minhag determined by the Tosafists.

והתלמידים הולכים אחר דבריו ופסקיו, ולא ידעו שבנפשם הוא, שהוא הכריע כמה פעמים נגד התוס’ והפוסקים אשר אנו נוהגין לפסוק כוותייהו, והנה שגו בזה, מאחר שראו שכן כתוב בספרו שכך הלכה אמרו כך כתב הקאר”ו להדיא, כי כך העניין הרע אשר לפניהם, מה שכתב בספר יאמינו, אם יעמוד אחד חי וצוח ככרוכיא שאין הדין כן בראיות גמורות, או אפי’ בקבלה, לא יחישו לדבריו, כאשר כתבתי בהקדמה ראשונה…

As Luria makes clear, he becomes particularly irate when they follow the Shulchan Aruch against logical proofs from the Talmud, but also when they ignore local practice.

Having seen his acknowledgments of these judicial principles, we can now sharpen Luria’s juridical philosophy.  Maharshal definitively advocates for Talmudic analysis as the overriding juridical principle.  Yet as he himself notes, the Talmud itself sometimes contradicts itself, and at other times present cryptic or ambiguous rulings.  On these occasions, when pure textual analysis has reached its limits, then other principles, such as hilkheta ke-vatra’ei or local practice, can play a determinative role.  The Talmud itself has validated these principles, and while they are overridden when the dayan understands the text differently, they can play a formative role in certain situations.

Authority of Post-Talmudic Generations

This anti-codification polemic that combines strong judicial independence with respect and utilization of earlier ancient authorities combines seemingly contradictory expressions toward the status of later post-Talmudic generations.

ועתה צאנה וראנה בנות ציון המצויינים בתורה ובמצות, אם אינכם נביאים בני נביאים אתם. הביטו וראו, אם שלמה ע”ה אמר בעתו נגד חכמי דורו, שלבם היה כפתחו של אולם לרוחב השגתם. עשות ספרים אין קץ. ר”ל שלא יספיק להם לכתוב התורה מבלי שיפול בו ספיקות ודעות חלוקות. אף שעדיין לא היה מתפשט כ”כ רבוי הדעת וההוספה. אנו יתמי דיתמי, שלבנו אינו אלא כפתח מחט של סדקית. ואם הראשונים מלאכים, אנו כחמורים ממש. איזהו ספר ואיזה חיבור שיספיק לנו, ק”ו שלעשות ספר לספיקות, ולקוצר השגתינו אין קץ ותכלית. כי אפילו מאותם שהיו לפנינו נפלו בהם המחלוקת, וגודל רבוי הדיעות, ושאלות ותשובות.

On the one hand, later scholars are bnei nevi’im, and therefore retain the authority to independently rule in halakhic matters.  On the other hand, they are “donkeys” compared to the “angels” of yesteryear, and thus surely will fail in attempting to codify the law.  Yeridat ha-dorot proves the continued futility of trying to codify the Oral Law.  Yet we remain bnei nevi’im, and must use the Sinai-ordained authority to originally probe the depths of the Talmud to derive the law.

Whose to Blame?

Maharshal’s frustration of the inappropriate reliance of Bet Yosef clearly manifests itself in this last source.  Luria had begun writing Yam Shel Shlomo before the Bet Yosef was published.  Yet by the time he comes to revise his commentary to Hulin, Karo’s compendium has clearly spread to Poland.  Luria acknowledges the accomplishment of the work, and praises it for its comprehensiveness.  Yet he laments how Polish Jews use Bet Yosef.  In addition to abandoning Talmudic argument and local custom, Luria rages against those ignoramuses who use the Bet Yosef to feign scholarship.

ובפרט האידנא שבעונות הרבים הנסמכים מרובים והלומדים מועטים, ומשום הכי תופסים דברי הספר אשר מצאו בו כל החידושים, ובזה הושוו הקטנים לגדולים, והנערים לזקנים, אני הגבר אשר בעו”ה ראה כל אלה…

Part of Luria’s diatribe relates to the larger polemic in 16th Poland against rabbis who use halakhic handbooks to adjudicate halakha.[14] Yet Luria’s larger target is the potential abuses of legal summaries by people untrained in the proper method of psak halakha.[15]

Luria’s criticism, however, extends to Karo himself.  As alluded to above, Luria criticizes Karo for promoting a halakhic work for all of Jewry that in reality ignores the Ashkenazic traditions.  This geographic or partisan bias directly contradicts the spirit of Luria’s quest to adjudicate bases on Talmudic analysis.  Luria, in contrast to Isserles, agreed with Karo’s ideal of a universal halakha.  The Torah, he wrote above, is not the inheritance of families or geographic ethnicities.[16] Yet Luria believed halakha must be based on Talmudic analysis, as opposed to Karo who favored following specific authorities.[17]

Luria chides Karo’s method of following the majority opinion between Rosh, Rambam, and Rif as unprecedented “compromises” stemming from the gut.

…אבל עשה פשרות בענייני פסקי הלכות מדעתו מסברת הכרס, ברוב הפעמים באיסור והיתר נגד הקבלה אשר קבלנו ונהגו עד הנה,… ולא די בזה למהר”י קאר”ו מה שעשה פשרה על אילו שלשת הגדולים הרי”ף הרא”ש והרמב”ם, היכא שהושוו שנים מהם דאזלינן בתרייהו, ולא חש לכל הגדולים האחרים, כאילו מסורה הקבלה בידו מימות הזקנים, אלא אף במקומות אחרים עשה פשרה, … וכן בכמה מקומות לא ירד לעומק ההלכה לגודל המלאכה רבה שהיתה עליו, כאשר תמצא בחיבורי בכמה וכמה מקומות, ובהגהותי על הטורים, זאת, ועוד אחרת, לא היו לפניו ספרים מוגהים, והעתיקם בטעות, כאשר ימצאו בדפוס, ולפעמים בנה יסוד על הטעות ההוא.

With no traditional juridical principle to back it, and insufficient Talmudic analysis (as well as poor manuscript checking), Karo’s method fails to properly adjudicate halakha.  The Bet Yosef thus becomes a tremendous yet dangerous resource whose methodology improperly applies the broad sources collected within it.

The Novelty of the Work in Historical Context

Despite his attack on Karo and his (partial) defense of local tradition, Yam Shel Shlomo nonetheless represents a departure from Ashkenazic halakhic literature.  As Elchanan Reiner has shown, the writing and transmission of the halakhic literature greatly changed in the 16th century.  The invention of the printing press particularly revolutionized the halakhic corpus, as the closed and largely pedagogical Ashkenazic writings encountered a world that opened access to Ashkenazic and Sephardic texts alike.  As Reiner shows, the Rema in particular transformed the Ashkenazic canon by replacing the elitist literature of haghot (shorthand, marginal notes) to Sha’arei Dura and Mordechai with systematic and accessible books.[18]

Like Rema’s works, Yam Shel Shlomo represents a new model for halakhic literature.  Using the Talmud as his base, he delves into careful textual analysis, using a broad range of sources, Ashkenazic and Sephardic alike, to help him reveal the “root of the topic” (shoresh ha-inyan).  In a cryptic remark, Luria criticizes the previous generation for blindly following anything recorded in writing, even when no reason is given for the ruling.

אף שהדור שלפנינו לעת ההיא, מרוב חולשת ורפיון ידם, אין יכולת בשכלם להשיג, שגדול אחד מן המחברים יטעה בדמיונו, וסוברים מה שכתב בכתב ישן אין להרהר אחריו, ואין נותנים טעם, אלא לסתור דברי חבירו. וכל מה שיוצא מפי אדם, אפילו הוצק חן בשפתים, ופיו מפיק מרגליות. אפילו הכי אומרים מה גברא מגוברין. הלא יש גם לנו לשון למודים, ויד ושם בתלמוד כמותו.

Is this a reference to the shorthand notation of the haghot?  While the subject of Luria’s attack remains unclear, Maharshal clearly understood that Yam Shel Shlomo pioneered a new form of halakhic discourse with the Talmud at its center.[19]


In many ways, Maharshal lost his battle against codification.  While the Shulchan Aruch with Mapah has endured as a canonical text, Yam Shel Shlomo remains a respected but largely ignored text.  Luria himself recognized the potential failures of his work, noting that its length and thoroughness made it difficult for him complete and for his readers to comprehend.  Half of the sixteen volumes he wrote, moreover, have not survived.  We cannot ignore this historical record.  Nonetheless, the Yam Shel Shlomo remains a testament to the importance of thorough Talmudic analysis in halakhic jurisprudence and a warning to the perils of abbreviated codes.  Perhaps this message alone is a worthwhile legacy for Maharshal, and an important voice to keep in mind for our own halakhic discourse, even as we continue to embrace our monumental codes of law.

[1] An earlier draft of this essay was written as a seminar paper for a graduate seminar taught by Prof. Elchanan Reiner at the Hebrew University.  Many thanks to Prof. Reiner for his insights over the course of the class.

[2] The hakdamah to Bava Kamma and 1st Hakdamah to Hulin are nearly identical.  Quotes in this paper come from the Bava Kamma version, unless otherwise noted as coming from the 2nd introduction to Hulin.  All emphases in bold in this paper were added by me.

[3] See end of 2nd Hakdamah to Hulin

[4] On the project of Rambam and Karo, see the nice summary in Moshe Halbertal, People of the Book:  Canon, Meaning, and Authority, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1997, p. 72-77.

[5] Meir Raffeld and others use this passage as proof that Maharshal embraced Kabbalistic ideas, and even occasionally in halakhic contexts.  See his article “Al Me’at…” in Da’at 36 (5756), p. 15-33 and the bibliography cited there.

[6] In is not surprising that Maharshal cites Ramban for recognizing other scholars from different localities.  Ramban is also one of the most prominent rishonim to advocate the plurality of the halakhic tradition, highlighting values such as elu ve-elu divrei elokim chayim.  See Moshe Halbertal, By Way of Truth:  Nahmanides and the Creation of Tradition (Heb.), Shalom Hartman Institute: Jerusalem, 2006, Chapter 1.  Yochanan Silman, The Voice Heard at Sinai: Once or Ongoing (Heb.), Magnes Press: Jerusalem, 1999, p. 148-149, makes this connection regarding Luria’s polemic against codification.

[7] At the end of his second hakdamah to Hulin, Luria explicitly accuses R. Yosef Karo of this failure in his Bet Yosef.

[8] Joseph Davis, “The Reception of the Shulchan Aruch and the Formation of Ashkenazic Jewish Identity,” AJS Review 26:2 (2002), p. 275, simply notes this surprising attack as representative of Luria’s polemical nature.

[9] See Jacob Elbaum, Petihut Ve-Histagerut, Magnes Press:  Jerusalem, 1990, p. 156-159.

[10] On Ibn Ezra’s methodology regarding Scripture and midrash, see Jay Harris, How Do We Know This?, SUNY Press: Albany, 1995, p. 82-86.

[11] Menachem Elon, Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivri Vol II, Jerusalem, 5758, p. 1156

[12] Yisrael Ta-Shma, Ritual, Custom, and Reality in Franco-Germany:  1000-1350 (Heb.), Magnes Press:  Jerusalem, 2000, p. 58-78.

[13] Meir Raffeld, “Hilkheta Ke-vatra’e…” Sidra 8 (1992), 135-138

[14] See Elchanan Reiner, “Transformations in the Polish and Ashkenazi Yeshivot During the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and the Dispute over Pilpul,” in Keminhag Ashkenaz U-Polin:  Sefer Yovel Le-Chone Shmeruk (Heb.),  Jerusalem: 1989, p. 46-47.  Note that earlier in the same hakdamah, Luria sardonically describes the necessity for him to write and explain the Halitzah ceremony since people perform it out of a siddur as they would the Pesach Seder from a Haggadah!

[15] The problematic role of the shorthand summaries found at the beginning of each section in Yam Shel Shlomo is discussed in Meir Raffeld, “Ha-Maharshal Ve-Samchutam Shel Sifrei Kitzur Hilkhatiyim,” Shnaton Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivr 18-19 (5752-54), p. 427-437.

[16] See the terse but insightful remarks of Davis, op cit., p. 262.

[17] This, at least, is how Luria, and many others, understood Karo’s methodology.   For a more nuanced anaylsis of Karo’s method, see Yisrael Ta-Shma, “Rabbi Joseph Karo and His Beit Yosef:  Between Spain and Germany,” (Heb.), Tarbiz 59 (1990), p. 153-170.

[18] Elchanan Reiner, “The Ashkenazic Elite at the Beginning of the Modern Era:  Manuscript versus Printed Book,” Polin 10 (1997), p. 85-98.

[19] Maharshal himself wrote haghot to the Tur, which amazingly were only recently printed for the first time.  It would seem that the format of haghot was not problematic, but rather the intellectual slothfulness that over-allegiance to canonized texts can create.  The Tur, moreover, is less of a definitive code and more of a compendium of halakhic opinions.

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