Aspaqlaria Blog

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How Should I Respond?

When they gossip in Vilna, they desecrate Shabbos in Paris. – Rav Yisrael Salanter Some take Rav Yisrael Salanter’s causality to be metaphysical. I don’t think that fits R’ Yisrael’s general approach to life. Mussar is fully comprehensible without invoking metaphysical concepts. I would instead say it’s more likely to be very rationalistic psychology. In two ways: 1- It fosters...

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Parashas Matos and Kol Nidre

My neighbor, R’ Eli Radinsky, recently drew the following similarity to my attention. There is an obligation to begin add time to Yom Kippur, an obligation true of Shabbos and every holiday, but happens to be derived from a verse about Yom Kippur. (“You shall afflict yourselves on the ninth of the month in the evening, from evening to evening,...

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Finding Spirituality

R’ Rich Wolpoe shared with us on Avodah this challenge: My friend’s thesis is that Judaism w/o Qabbalah or Hassidus is mechanical and lifeless. And so he challenged me as follows: To List aspects of Jewish Spirituality that were devoid of Qaballah or Hassidus. I came up with my own list. Any other takers out there? Caveat: Remember that a...

TiDE and Slabodka

(The previous post was off topic, but on the blog. This post is on topic, but posted elsewhere.) Rabbi Rich Wolpoe posted to the Nishma blog an exchange we had by email. Here are some snippets of things I say in the post and consequent dialog (so far): Look how similar TIDE [Torah im Derech Eretz] and Slabodka are in...

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Natural Morality and Halakhah

What’s the relationship between a human’s intuitive sense of what’s moral and halachic mandate? There is a tendency in some circles to describe the Torah as though halakhah was the sum total of the guidelines Hashem gave us for behavior. This is belied by a number of the mitzvos that require we follow some sense of “right” or “holy” that...

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1984, NewSpeak and the Holy Language

A long while back I wrote some thoughts on the dispute between the Ramban and the Rambam about what makes Hebrew the holy language, in the context of a general dispute over the context of qedushah. The Rambam says that Hebrew’s holiness comes from it having no native expletives, even sexual organs are identified by euphemisms or loan words. The...

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How Great Are Your Works

Not my usual speed for a blog entry, but I saw this and was nispael (awed). It’s a video of what does on within a cell. How much Divine Wisdom there is in just one microscopic little spot within the world, and how easy it is to take for granted! (If you do not see a video below this sentence,...

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Emergency Doors

My current employer is meticulous about hanging mezuzos. He hired a rav who is an expert in this particular mitzvah, and he went around identifying every doorway. (Some of which are non-obvious, like where the metal between the tiles in the ceiling makes the top of the “door-frame”.) On the way down the hall, I did a double-take. There was...

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Halakhah and Phenomenology – Chazaqah

At this point we’re so far mid-stream, that unlike the previous post, I’m not going to summarize the basic thesis or even pretend to try to translate terms already used. Instead, I will just point out the conclusions so far with respect to birur from just the last two posts (parts 2 and 3). Then we’ll discuss the concept of...

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Aggadic Stories, History and Halakhah

Someone raised on Avodah the following question (see the posts listed here under two different subject lines, “Kinyan on Shabbos??” and “Kinyan on Shabbos? (Har Sinai)” ). The first Shavuos was on a Shabbos. Didn’t we acquire the Torah — doesn’t this imply a qinyan on Shabbos — which is prohibited? What about our being made avadim, servants, of the...

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Of Qorbanos and Flowers

I’m curious to know how many of us who believe we’re supposed to want a restoration of the sacrifices actually anticipate it. I must confess that I’m too 21st cent for that, and generally during Mussaf or Qorbanos (or parts of the liturgy that discuss sacrifices) my thought is asking G-d to help me learn how to want them, to...

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Halakhah and Phenomenology – The Unperceived

Back on April 6th, I posted my previous entry to this series. The notion I’m exploring here is that: (1) Halakhah is about changing the one who performs it (as the Chinukh puts it “האדם נפעל לפי פעולתו”) and therefore (2) One can understand various aspects of halakhah by thinking of it in terms of the world as it is...

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Hod shebiGevurah

Given that we’re a little shy on prophets right now, we have to find G-d’s word as He relays it as the Author of history. Looking at these “coincidences” He allows to crop up. One of them is the convergance of meanings the Jewish People assign to the 27th of Nissan. In the sefiras ha’omer, today is day 12, which...

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R’ Moshe Feinstein: Blessing the sun – and a child

The following was outright copied from Da’as Torah, a blog maintained by R’ Daniel Eidensohn (who, among other things, is the compiler of Yad Moshe, the index to Rav Moshe Feinstein’s responsa, “Igros Moshe”). It was just too beautiful not to repeat: Every 28 years there is a special blessing made on the sun. It is in commemoration of the...

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Halakhah and Phenomenology – The Actually Perceived

In the previous post, I presented the idea that The Chinukh repeatedly explains various mitzvos by explaining “ha’adam nif’al lefi pe’ulaso — a person is affected according to his action.” Contemporary hashkafos differ over what halachic life is supposed to cause, whether the ideal is better described as “wholeness”, perfecting the image of G-d, or “attachment” to G-d…. But notice...

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Halakhah and Phenomenology – The Very Small, Tastes and Birkhas haChamah

The Chinukh repeatedly explains various mitzvos by explaining “ha’adam nif’al lefi pe’ulaso — a person is affected according to his action.” Contemporary hashkafos differ over what halachic life is supposed to cause, whether the ideal is better described as “wholeness”, perfecting the image of G-d, or “attachment” to G-d. (See the posts in the “Forks” category.) But notice that both...

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Speaking Yiddish

In the US today, when someone needs to pay for a ride to get somewhere, someone in the house may wait by the window to see when it arrives. And then they’ll call out “Time to go, the taxi’s here!” In pre-war Eastern Europe, they would have called out “Der balagalah iz du — The wagon driver is here.” And...

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Osniel ben Kenaz

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שנפטר משה רבינו לגן עדן אמר לו ליהושע שאל ממני כל ספיקות שיש לך אמר לו רבי כלום הנחתיך שעה אחת והלכתי למקום אחר לא כך כתבת בי (שמות לג) ומשרתו יהושע בן נון נער לא ימיש מתוך האהל מיד תשש כחו של יהושע ונשתכחו ממנו שלש מאות הלכות ונולדו לו שבע מאות ספיקות...

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What Exists?

Bishop Berkley said that  “reality” is a set of inputs G-d feeds into our souls. In His compassion, he allows us to work together by giving us consistent worldviews with each other. Which is why when a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, it makes no sound. But then, there is really...

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“A Greater Obligation”

Just sharing a couple of posts from the blog “A Simple Jew“. A Greater Obligation Footnote in the Artscroll Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: See Mishnah Berura 1:12 and Shaar HaTziyun 26 who cites Chayei Adam which states that studying sifrei mussar is a greater obligation than that of studying Mishnayos. He follows up by posting a comment by Rabbi Micha Golshevsky...

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Different Approaches to Creation

[Modified Feb 6, 2005: References raised on an Avodah discussion added. [Modified Feb 5 2009: References to later essays added. -mi] I know of a number of approaches to evolution vs creation in Jewish thought. As far as I can tell, it seems that an insistence on the Torah giving literal history with it being roughly 5,769 years since ex...

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Infinity and Thought

A little transfinite math as a prelude to the main point: Georg Cantor divided the concept of infinity into a number of subtypes. The number of integers (whole numbers) he called אo (read: alef-null). (Legend has it that he was tired of overloading meanings to Greek letters, and since he was Jewish, he chose alef.) Any infinite set that can...

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Reason and the Tripartite Soul

This post will draw from ideas found in two earlier ones. So, I’ll open with a repetition of some points. Reason (from Ru’ach Memalela): By my own experience, conscious thought happens two ways: the internal monologue we call a “stream of consciousness”, and by setting up thought-experiments to run through. For example, there are two ways to think through the...

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35

61 years ago today, 5 Shevat 5708 (Jan 16, 1948), 35 Hebrew University students set out to the besieged settlers of Gush Etzion. A previous convoy had been attacked a month before, and the settlers of Ramat Rachel themselves were attacked twice in the previous week. So, at an age when most of us don’t have bigger worries than keeping...

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You only have 15 seconds…

From mopocket.com: GET A TEXT MESSAGE EVERY TIME ISRAEL IS FIRED UPON January 6th, 2009 by Justin Oberman As the conflict in the Middle East continues rockets fired by Hamas continue to fall into the Israeli city of Sederot where countless of innocent victims have 15 seconds to find shelter and or find their children and loved ones. Mobile Technology...