Thursday, June 15, 2006

או"ר- An acronym with a story.

I was looking at the various Rambam’s dealing with Minim and Apikursim when I came upon the Rambam in Hil Edus 11:11 and in comment 11 in Harav Kafih’s edition the following cryptic comment by Rav Kafih paraphrased:

It happened, our parents told us, that many did not eat from the shechita of – acronym “aleph, vav, resh” according to Rambam’s words (in Pirush Hamishna on Chulin 1:2). And “AVR” was a witness on a get that was executed on Chol Hamoed and the Rabbis allowed the woman to stay with her husband who was a Cohen. (If the get were good, the husband, a Cohen, could not take her back. She is a divorcee) Now this really becomes even more intriguing: RK continues: I wrote all this because my stomach was bothering me, so I let slip truths, that maybe keeping them buried in the depth of my heart would have been preferable.

I had no idea what AVR stands for so I wrote to Mechon-mamre asking:

> In Hil Edut 11:11 comment 11 in Harav Kafih's Rambam he refers to
> Someone with the acronym "Aleph, vav, resh" do you know who he is referring to?

To which they answered:

Sorry, but I could not find anything in my resources that makes sense in this context of either או"ר without the hey or האו"ר with it.

One of my Kvius I learn Hilchos Krias Shema with my father, La’arichas Yomim, and we were doing the Tur and Beis Yosef on repeating Hashem Elokeichem Emes, which is a quite fascinating issue per se. Tur brings it and quotes the Remah (R. Meir Halevi Abulafia) who says that it is not proper to repeat it and leaves it at that. Beis Yosef then goes into a lengthy discussion why it should be done, discusses Kel Melech Ne’eman, amen after habocher and it becomes clear that it is not such a simple minhag. (Orach Chaim 61). I remembered that I had seen a Teshuvah on the issue in the last volume of the Kesavim of Harav Kafih. The Teshuvah is by Rav Moshe Tzarum who was the last Rav of Sana’a died in EY in 1954. RMT lays out wuth great bekius and insight the problems with the beis Yosef and paskens like the Tur and Remah that the Chazan should not repeat it and strongly recommends the minhag should be stopped. Introducing the Teshuvah, Harav Kafih uses the same acronym, so I contacted Mechon-Mamre again:

> Fascinating. I was reading in Chelek 3 of Rav Kafih's Ketavim a
> Teshuvah on Hashem Elokeichem Emet by R.Moshe Tzarum. In the introduction Rav
> Kafih refers to this same acronym "Aleph Vav Resh yud ben Aleph, vav, resh".

(RK describes how the Teshuvah found its way to him and this AVR was somehow involved in the process.)

And got this answer:

After taking with my friend, the only "Rav Moshe Tzarum" I knew of, it turns out that he is the grandson of the author of that work, not the author. And he says that this 'w"r means 'oto rasha` (or 'oto for short in Yemenite speech, as either a reference to 'oto rasha` OR 'oto maqom), which was applied to several persons including Yesh"u, the pagan god of the Christians, as well as a well-known major qabbalistic rabbinical figure in San`a who was a "moser" to the Muslims (to take Jewish orphans of non-qabbalists to raise as Muslims), which took him outside the domain of "yisrael". I would rather not mention his name (but I am sure you know it, if you need to know it).

I am not sure whom he is referring to, and apparently it is a sensitive matter, but it is well known that in the late 1800’s early 1900 a great controversy broke out in Sana’a between those who followed Kabbalah and the rationalists. Apparently it got pretty nasty. Rav Kafih’s grandfather was one of the leaders of the rationalists and wrote a sefer showing the Zohar and Kabbalah as wrong and possibly kefirah. {It can be found here: and click on the Milchamot Hashem download. ( BTW it is a very interesting site just to learn about Yemenite Jewry and their view of Rambam).}. Whatever nasty action the other side did must have affected him and was still paining him years later when he worked on his monumental edition of the Yad.

To read about the controversy see Enc. Judaica under Yemen and the section about Kabbalah.


  1. where on the chas site is the milchamot hashem download? thanking you in advance.