Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 01:10:54 -0000
From: "Levi" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Response to Micha's "mysery"
Sure there is the principle that Hashem's ways are not like ours, but is
this binding on a Jew?
I don't think so. "Know Him and become like Him" G-d's purpose in
creation obviously implies "olam" - a concealment. However, G-d's purpose
in creation was to "reveal" His "concealment" - by giving the Torah, and by
our service throughout golus, and by 7 laws of Noach. G-d's reason for
concealment, has been known from Matan Torah, by a select few. Now,
through Jews such as the Arizal, and especially the Besht, pnimius haTorah
has become revealed, in its time. Creating a dwelling place within the
"confines" of Gashmius must mean that a Jew's Chochma will bind with
Chochma Y-K-V-K, and the whole earth will be "filled" with the knowledge of
Hashem. Not as though a Jew was incapable before of doing this. However,
the Jew was a "part" of G-d Himself, and through learning Chassidus, living
Chassidus, given to us by the Holy Besht, written in Tanya, we can
culminate this "dark" place - and, may G-d grant us, bring Moshiach.
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Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 01:25:58 -0000
From: "Levi" <email@example.com>
To Prof. Handel,
The question- Does a Jew need to come to a rational truth about a
"contradiction" of a Torah opinion? On one hand Pirkie Avos claims that
the dispute that is for "shamayim" will have a good outcome. Secondly, a
Jew is not limited to understanding literal, allegorical, hinted, or
esoteric "meanings" of the Torah - for, the principle thing is the act
itself, and if one is bittul, act with self-sacrifice, one is no longer
"understanding' Torah, rather one is "bound up" in Torah - his natural
faculties become "changed" and the unity is "appreciated".
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Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 09:00:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Micha Berger)
Subject: Administrivia -- leaving baistefila
1 -- The next step, now that all the email is going out over avodah, is for
people to leave baistefila. Without R' YGB here, you're going to have to
do this step yourself.
Simply mail email@example.com the following text (in the body, NOT the
The email MUST be sent from the subscribed account.
2 -- The weird digest numbers are a side effect of my playing with the
list. I'm trying to get email from baistefila to avodah without making it go
'round and 'round again. For similar reasons, many emails have been showing
When I feel comfortable that we can shut off baistefila, I'll remove the
(broken) bridge, and things will get down to normal.
Micha Berger (973) 916-0287 Help free Yehuda Katz, held by Syria 5871 days!
firstname.lastname@example.org (11-Jun-82 -- 21-Jul-98)
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.
http://www.aishdas.org -- Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed
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Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 12:27:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Subject: Re: More on Music
Two list members have questioned my post regarding the permissibility of
Akiva Miller asks:
>This makes no sense to me at all. If this kind of background music is
>allowed, then what did the Rama (560:3) mean by "Some hold [that this
>prohibition applies only to] one who is "ragil" with them, such as kings
>who get up and lie down to music, or at a party."
>Do you think that the kings danced when they woke up and went to bed?
>What can "ragil" mean, other than referring to one who is used to having
>music around him, and if so, how is that different from background music?
>It seems to me that the recording and broadcasting of music has reduced
>the price to a point where we all have as much music today as did the
>kings of old. It is undeniable that there are acts which the Rama
>prohibits on account of being "ragil". If background music doesn't count,
>then what do you suggest those forbidden acts might be? I submit that
>even if you insist on allowing "background music", then if one catches
>himself singing along, then it is no longer in the background.
Shaul Weinreb adds a hasidic perspective:
>I agree with Akiva Miller that background music is
>prohibited and I would like to take this a step further.
>If it is hardly noticed, then why do they play such "dinner music", and why
>do people listen to it in their cars? I would venture to say that it is
>precisely this kind of music that was prohibited. In fact, this is often
>reffered to as "mood music" in the common parlance.
Shaul adds that hasidic nigunim, which are more a form of avodat hashem,
He is correct of course that songs that fall into the category shirot
ve-tishbahot are permitted, as all of the posekim point out. However,
this does not prove that music that does not fall into this category is
ipso facto prohibited.
With respect to the Rema's reference to kings, I had suggested that
music there contributed to pomp and ceremony. Apparently, this
explanation slipped from Akiva's memory. However, rather than trade
suppositions, I think we can best seek to understand the rule in the
Shulhan Arukh/Rema by going back to the sources on which the rule is
No doubt everyone is aware that the permissibility of music is discussed
in Gittin 7a. Rashi explains that the gemara is discussing singing [not
music] in beit mishta'ot. Tosafot explain Rashi's source as the gemara
in Sotah 48a regarding the absence of song from beit mishta'ot after the
demise of the Sanhedrin. [I assume we all agree that the singing of the
beit mishta'ot was (a) live, (b) frivolous, (c) not background music.]
Tosafot add that one should refrain [ra'uy le-hahmir] even outside of
the beit mishta'ot as described in the Yerushalmi "that he woke and went
to sleep with song, which was excessive enjoyment [she-mit'aneg
be-yoter]." Where is this Yerushalmi? Tosafot don't say, but it
appears in Megillah 3:2, and the person involved was the Resh Galuta,
who was criticized by Mar Ukva when he rose and went to sleep while
people sang. [Cf. the statement of Rav Huna regarding the songs of
different workers in Sotah 48a.]
Thus, Rashi prohibits only song in a beit mishteh and Tosafot say ra'uy
le-hahmir even outside the beit mishteh, based on the Yerushalmi.
The Orhot Hayyim, always a reliable guide to Ashkenazic practice, writes
[Helek Alef, siman 95] in the name of the Geonim that the prohibition
applies only in the beit ha-mishteh. "But one who who is working and
sings to make his work lighter, this is permitted," but not if the work
is already light. This may be a reference to the teshuvah of Rav Hai
Gaon [Otzar Geonim to Gittin 7a] which states that the songs Mar Ukva
was prohibiting were: "songs of love from one person to another and to
praise a handsome person's appearance and praise a hero's courage, such
as those sung by the Moslems . . ."
As noted by R. YGB, all of the sources seem to focus on songs with
lyrics, as opposed to mere instrumental music.
The Rambam's formulation may be found at the end of Hilkhot Taanit and
is echoed of course by the Mehaber. I have not looked at all of the
Rishonim on the subject. But the Tur seem to be the first who reads the
Yerushalmi as creating a leniency, writing that the prohibition applies
"specifically to one who is accustomed to it, such as appears in the
Yerushalmi. . . " In other words, everyone is allowed to listen to
music, unless you are the kind of person (like the resh galuta and,
presumably other royalty) who has court musicians to serenade him
regularly. In his day, this was obviously a huge kullah, rendering
virtually all music permitted to every Jew.
Now we can understand the Rema. He is citing two lenient opinions, that
of the Tur - who limits the prohibition to people with court musicians
-- and Rashi -- who limits the prohibition to the beit mishteh.
Akiva Miller seems to feel that today we are all royalty because
recorded music surrounds us the way that court music once surrounded the
king. I am unpersuaded. His argument presumes that live music and
recorded music are equivalent. Yet, live music remains an expensive
commodity; no one today regards listening to a cassette or radio as
comparable to attending a concert. Indeed, following Akiva's reasoning,
the availability of recorded music should have rendered live music
obsolete. Why would someone hire a band to play a wedding when a few
cassettes can be played? Why would someone attend a concert? The
answer is, I think, that the enjoyment of live music -- with all the
excitement and energy it generates -- is not provided by a cassette or
CD. And, in my view, it is precisely that kind of pleasure that the
posekim were prohibiting.
What of the more restrained enjoyment that people derive from recorded
music? Obviously, the posekim could not address this case because it
was not a possibility. To fill this lacuna, we must ask ourselves what
the posekim *would* have said, requiring real speculation. Based on the
lenient tendencies of Rashi, the Tur and Rema, who considerably limited
the live music prohibition, I feel that prohibiting recorded music would
be contrary to their derekh in this matter. Of course, there are other
reasons for a particular piece of music to be prohibited, including the
lyrics, association with the liturgy of avodah zarah, and a female
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Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 21:42:57 -0400
From: email@example.com (Russell Hendel)
Subject: More on Tefilin: Real Lamdus: A New Halachik Methodology
To make this posting to the point I give two background statements
and then answer two questions: The outline is as follows:
* REVIEW OF DEFINITION OF OTH (SOURCE: Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch)
* REVIEW OF MY POSITION ON TEFILLIN (Please skip if you already saw)
* Q1: Why not say no Matzah/Maror on Shabbath (because two ototh)
* Q2: But Yom Tov is not an oth..so how does equating YT=CHMoayd help
In passing I thank Elie for offering some extremely logical questions that
allow for very deep discussion. I think we agree though on most things.
********************REVIEW OF DEFINITION OF OTH***************************
(SOURCE: With humility I acknowledge
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch for his beautiful and neglected essay
GRUNDLINIEN EINER JUDISCHEN SYMBOLIC (Groundlines for a Jewish Symbolism)
where he spends 100 of the most beautiful pages in Midrashic literature
explaining what is an oth, when we must interpret a mitzvah as an oth,
and how to do so. This essay is reprinted in Rav Hirsch's Collected
writings available from Feldheim.) I now give a summary:
DEFINTION OF OTH: A *symbol=oth* is an ACT or OBJECT which is intentionally
used to remind the user of other EVENTS,VALUES or OBJECTS, PAST or PRESENT.
CATEGORY ONE: WHEN DO WE HAVE TO INTERPRET SOMETHING AS SYMBOLIC:
If the creator of the symbol EXPLICITLY uses the WORD symbol. Thus God
explicitly called only 3 1/2 mitzvoth OTH=SYMBOL(Shabbath, Milah, Tefilin,
And Pesach Mitzrayim)
CATEGORY TWO: WHEN WE HAVE TO INTERPRET SOMETHING AS SYMBOLIC
If the creator of the symbol DOES NOT EXPLICITLY use the WORD symbol
but nevertheless EXPLICITLY says
>>Do this ACT or take this OBJECT *in order* to
>>remember this EVENT, VALUE or OBJECT then (by definition!!)
>>the ACT must be construed as symbolic.
EXAMPLE 1: God does NOT use the word SYMBOL by Tzitzith. But He explicitly
>>....Wear Tzitzith...In order that you remember all Gods mitzvoth..
Thus we are justified in called Tzizzith an oth.
EXAMPLE 2 (negative example): To answer Elies question NOT all mitzvoth
are symbolic. For example >>Don't steal<< is not symbolic. For the
abstention from theft is NOT to remind me e.g. of Gods ownership but
rather the abstention from theft is the thing prohibited. By contrast
the abstention from work on Sabbath IS SUPPOSE to remind me of
Gods Sovereignty and The exodus from Egypt (EX 20:11, & Dt 5,15!!!!)
In fact if you want to hear a beautiful distinction made by Rav Hirsch
(see Dt 22:8 and Rav Hirsch) he asks the classical question
*Which mitzvoth have bracoth and which dont? And he answers
*Symbolic Mitzvoth have bracoth
*Non symbolic mitzvoth (e.g. Charity) don't have Bracoth.
(The only possible exception to this rule is MAAKEH and this was solved
by Rav Shalom Kaminetsky in a shiur I heard a few years ago).
EXAMPLE 3: (Again from Rav Hirsch in his 19 letters/CHOREV)
All Holidays are classified by the Torah as AYDOTH. According to Rav
Hirsch there are not 2 terms for Mitzvoth (CHOK/MISHPAT) but 6 terms
(CHOK/MISHPAT/MITZVAH/AYDAH/TORAH/PIKUDIM). An Aydah is an act that
gives witness (commeroration) to some past event.
Perhaps this is the best answer to Elies question about Yom Tov.
BOTH TEFILIN and YOM TOV are connected to "commerorations"
TEFILIN is called AN OTH
YOM TOV is called an AYDAH
Now that we have a solid background in what is an OTH we can
proceed to discuss tefilin.
Notice the methodology. We are not discussing Rishonim/Achorinim/
Shulchan Aruch rather we are discussing Torah and Parshanuth.
This is the true way to learn (and without controversy!!!)
*********REVIEW OF MY POSITION ON TEFILLIN****************************
(Please skip if you already know)
(NOTE: I only state my position here and then later
MODIFY it to answer Elies excellent questions)
* TEFILIN = OTH (Ex 13:15); SHABBATH=OTH(EX 20:11, & Dt 5,15!!!!).
Can't have two OTH together ===> hence no tefillin on shabbath
* YOM TOV = OTH (e.g. LEV 23:43//EX 13:7,8 or EX 12:17)
* YOM TOV = CHOL HAMOAYD
Hence 2 othoth===> no tefillin on shabbath
2 othoth===> no tefillin on Yom Tov
2 othoth===> no tefillin on Chol Hamoayd
Now and only now can we answer Elie's questions.
********QUESTION 2: Why not say no Matzah on Shabbath (because 2 othoth)
ANSWER: It is NOT a play on NUMBERS (1 vs 2) but an issue of CONCEPTS.
SHABBATH is an oth THAT *COMMERORATES* THE EXODUS (Dt 5:15)
TEFILLIN is an oth THAT *COMMERORATES* THE EXODUS (Ex 13:15)
It is not TWO symbols that were prohibited but two symbols THAT
COMMERORATE THE SAME THING. If you are REALLY commerorating the exodus
with SHABBATH then why do you need tefilin!!!!!
Matzah/Maror by contrast are ototh but commerorate SPECIFIC attributes
of the exodus. MAROR commerorates the BITTERNESS we had (and so can
be had on SHABBOTH. I will not get into a discussion on what specific
PART of the exodus MATZOH commerorates except to say that SHABBATH
and TEFILLIN commerorate the TOTALITY of the exodus while MAROR
and MATZOH commerorate ATTRIBUTES.
*******QUESTION 1: BUt if Yom Tov is not an Oth then why equate to CHMoayd..
Ahhhh. Now we can thoroughly answer this.
No one can dispute that YOM TOV is symbolic (in the sense that I defined
But the issue is whether YOM TOV is symbolic of the EXODUS the same
way SHABBATH and TEFILIN are.
We have just seen that MATZOH/MAROR are symbolic of ATTRIBUTES of
the EXODUS. Now TEFILLIN has 4 chapters and commerorates BOTH
the EXODUS and KABBALATH MITZVOTH. SHABBATH also (see verses cited
above) commerorates BOTH the EXODUS and GODS SOVEREIGNTY.
By contrast SUCCOTH only commerorates GODS PROTECTION (an attribute
of the exodus). On the other hand the three holidays taken as a whole
DO commerorate EXODUS/KABBALATH MITZVOTH/GODS SOVEREIGNTY.
This then is the controversy of Tefillin on Yom Tov.
IF we look at the 3 Yom Tovs as a whole then
Yom Tov = Shabbath = Commeroration of the Full exodus
Hence no tefillin on Yom Tov
If we look at the 3 yom tovs separately then
Yom Tov = Commeroration of attributes of the exodus
Hence we should wear tefillin on Yom Tov
Independent of the above since CHOL HAMOAYD = YOM TOV (With regard
to commeroration--see the verses...all 7 days) therefore
If you don't wear Tefillin on Yom tov don't wear them on CHMoayd
If you do wear Tefillin on Yom Tov do wear them on CHMoayd
I hope the above clarifies my position. Note that my approach was not
the traditional--Gmarrah/Rishonim/Acharonim/Shulchan Aruch/Aruch Hashuchan/
Mishnah Brura style.
Instead we delved more deeply into the underlying reason for the controversy
in the Gmarray.
I would be curious what Eli and others have to say on this approach to
Tefillian and halachah.
Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA RHendel @ mcs drexel edu
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