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11.3.17

Chafetz Chaim

There is a famous law in the Chafetz Chaim about באפי תלתא "in front of three." That is once slander [or the dust of slander אבק לשון הרע] has been said in front of three, then it is considered to already be known in public,  and there is no further prohibition to repeat it. The question on this is simple. Who is asking?  One of the three. He is asking "Can I repeat it, since it was said in front of three?"  Then just tell him, "No," and then there will no longer be three people making it known.

A similar situation arises in Gitin also in הלכות מכירה.

הרי זה גיטך על מנת שלא תנשאי לפלוני "This is your divorce, if you do not get married to Smith." If she gets married to Smith, there is no divorce-- and so she can't get married to Smith. That is--the marriage is not valid. So only if it is a valid divorce, can it be invalid.

Secular readers already know this as the "Liar's Paradox." It comes up in mathematics. The set of all sets. The Liar' Paradox was answered well by Dr. Kelley Ross based on the Kantian idea of the ground of validity.  The math thing I forget.

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The Chafetz Chaim itself is a great book. But his later book on Halacha is  mediocre. It even makes a false prediction about when the final redemption will come in the end of the laws on Rosh Hodesh.
In my mind the best Halacha book is the Tur with the Beit Joseph (טור בית יוסף). Also the Hayee Adam (חיי אדם) by a disciple of the Gra. The Aruch Hashulchan (ערוך השלחן) is  a great halacah book also.
In the long run the only real halacha book is the Gemara itself because, that is in the final analysis the only thing that determines halacha. This is obvious to anyone who has ever learned even one word of the Shach, Taz, or Beit Joseph.The approach of all baali halacha is to find out what the Gemara holds. As Reb Chaim from Voloshin puts it "אין לנו אלא דינא דגמרא" ''We only are concerned about the Law of the Gemara.'' Nothing else matters. {That was in a letter he wrote about why he disagreed with some decision of some famous person. He said as I mentioned, that it does not matter how great or smart someone is. All that matters is what the Gemara says.  And he also said over what the Gra said "לא לישא פנים בהלכה" ''not recognize faces in halacah.'' That is a phrase used for a judge to decide a case on its own merits, not on who is being represented.}
[But of course, it matters what Rishonim thought. Obviously they were better at Gemara than we are. But we respect what they say  only because we believe they understood the Gemara better than we do.- which is perfectly true.]
The Shulchan Aruch of Rav Joseph Karo is a short version of his Beit Yoseph and I think the Tur Beit Yoseph is better. Still there is one way to do the Shulchan Aruch itself which makes a lot of sense that is to do it with the Beer Heteiv and Shaari Teshuva. I did not learn the whole Shulchan Aruch of Rav Yoseph Karo in that way, but I did do a lot of Choshen Mishpat in that way --with the Beer Heteiv and Pischei Teshuva right on the page and  I found that a really great way of doing it.--Short and sweet and to the point.