Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 020

Wednesday, October 14 1998

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 20:51:33 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
In the Spirit of Inclusionism, a la R' Herschel Maryles' Post:

From the Reb Shlomo Digest:

From the Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 1998 Sunday, October 11, 1998 21 Tishri
5759 Last update at Sun Oct 11 02:58:46 EET 1998

                       Missing Reb Shlomo

                       By DAVID WEINBERG

   (October 11) - So misunderstood and unappreciated in his lifetime, yet
so celebrated and yearned for after death - such was Rabbi Shlomo
Carlebach, the saintly singer and composer, storyteller, scholar and saver
of souls, who passed away four years ago this month.

   There is nary a Jewish bookstore in the world today that doesn't
feature multiple shelves of Reb Shlomo's recordings and taped hassidic
stories, or books of enchanted tales about the singing and whistling
rabbi's good works.

   "Carlebach-style" concerts and Friday night prayer groups are the rage
in yeshivot and religious centers, sprouting like mushrooms after a deep
rain, drawing young and old.

   Even the most ultra-Orthodox newspapers are filled with glowing
tributes to "holy Reb Shlomele", the most prolific Jewish composer of this
century, who "rediscovered the melodies sung by the Levittes in the
Temple, drawing on Divine inspiration to reintroduce more than 1,000
heavenly hymns in our generation". 

   It wasn't always like this. In his lifetime, the off-beat "hippie's
rabbi" wasn't exactly appreciated by many in mainstream circles, despite
his illustrious hassidic lineage, impeachable rabbinic credentials
(ordained by Lakewood's Rabbi Aharon Kotler, no less), deep knowledge of
Talmud, kabbala and hassidut, and unparalleled track record in bringing
lost souls back to Orthodox tradition.

   His methods, they used to say, were "unconventional". 

   And so they were. Courageously so. Who else was prepared to foray into
the ashrams, hippie villages and pubs of the 1960's flower-child
generation, showering love and acceptance of all?  Who else was prepared
to take the beauty of Jewish mystical teachingsand nigunim to the the
Berkeley Folk Festival, to 'Holy Man Jamborees' and 'Whole Earth Expos' -
which were packed with wandering Jewish youth searching for spiritual
guidance? Only Reb Shlomo.

  "If you want to raise a man out of the mud," Reb Shlomo would quote his
namesake Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, "you have to go all the way down yourself
into the mud, and then pull him and yourself out into the light". 

  In this fashion, Reb Shlomo reclaimed thousands upon thousands of "holy
hippielech" - from Haight-Ashbury to Bombay - offering personal redemption
through ecstatic song, meditative prayer, and moral, compassionate living.

   Especially Moscow. Reb Shlomo was there long before anyone else was
paying attention to Russian Jews. His 1965 song Am Yisrael Chai - The
Jewish People Lives! - became synonymous with the struggle to free Soviet

  On one of his frequent undercover trips behind the Iron Curtain, a
Jewish youth knocked on Reb Shlomo's door, begging for teffilin, a siddur
and a kippa so that he could properly celebrate his upcoming bar-mitzvah.
But, as the tale goes, Reb Shlomo had exhausted his large, smuggled stock
of these items. So Reb Shlomo gave the earnest lad his own pair of
tefillin (a family heirloom), his personal prayerbook, and the kippa
literally off his head.

   Landing in Vienna several hours later, Reb Shlomo asked to borrow
tefillin for morning prayers from a Jew praying in the airport lounge. 

   "Before you ask for tefillin, go worry about getting yourself a
head-covering," the man scornfully responded. Knowing that once again he
was being misjudged unfairly by a fellow Jew lacking sufficient heart and
vision, Reb Shlomo responded sadly: "Ah well my friend, one day you should
only merit the holy yarmulke that is now covering my head!" 

  And thus, we all owe Reb Shlomo an apology. For not appreciating him
more. For not realizing just how deep he was, and for not applauding him
every step of the way.

  Today, there is no one to take his place; yet the need is ever great. 

  In recent months, newspapers have told the story of Israeli youth
flocking by the thousands to ashram-style camps in the Negev on holidays,
to pray and commune with nature.

  The movement seeks to blend the eastern 'spirituality' picked-up by
searching Israeli kids on their obligatory post-army jaunt to India or
Nepal, with whatever few symbols of Judaism they know. A rarefied
generation much like the flower children of the American sixties, crying
out for identity, for meaning.

But not knowing how to find it in Judaism. 

  Which is exactly where Reb Shlomo came into the picture. Were he here,
he would have sung Lemaan Achai Vereyai (For the Sake of My Brothers) to
these lost soulsof Israel, and meditated with them in the Negev to the
strains of Borchi Nafshi (Let My Soul Bless God), Esa Einai (Lift Up Your
Eyes to the Heavens) and Mekimi Meafar Dal (Raise My Broken Spirit from
the Dust).

   Reb Shlomo would have taught today's spiritually-thirsty Israeli that
the gates of heaven can be pried open with music (Pitchu Li Shaarei
Tzedek), that we can demand of God to enrich our lives with Torah
immanence (Vehaer Eineynu), and force Him to bring peace upon mankind
(Ufros Aleynu Succat Shlomecha) - if we only truly will it.

   He would've told us to 'Wake up World!' and enter 'The Palace of the
King' through Shabbat observance (Lecha Dodi) and holy life within the
sacred bounds of Jewish marriage (Od Yishama). 

   But in his absence, who will do that now? 


End of REB-SHLOMO Digest 481

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Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 20:56:03 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Ponim chadashos - Not What You Think!

On a completely different Sheva Berachos tack, I saw this afternoon a
beautiful explanation in the Rogatchover on how Shabbos is Ponim
Chadashos. He says that the Seven Days of Mishteh for Chassan v'Kalla area
a "nekuda" (single unit of time) not a "shetach" (combination of many
units). As such, some hischadshus is necessary to repeat the berachos. But
Shabbos by its very nature is an hischadshus in time, and thus obviates
the need for ponim chadashos.

Matok me'dvash!


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 22:03:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jonathan J. Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Re: Succoh on Shmini

Over yomtif I looked at a couple of bits on this question.  I saw the
Gemara in Suk. 47a, and the Rif's nice summary of it.  I looked at
the Taamei haMinhagim, which seems to record mostly Chasidish customs,
on the question.  He gave three positions:

1) the fundamental position, that one eats but does not bless (the

2) some don't eat in the sukkah on Shmini night, because the ikar
is to eat during the day;

3) some just make kiddush in the sukkah and eat a small seudah, then
go into the house and eat lunch, so that they can pray wholeheartedly
for rain that morning.

A few thoughts: 

   a) On (3), aren't we praying for rain in Eretz Yisrael, rather
than rain here and now?  In which case, unless one is in Israel,
the reason is not relevant. 

   b) Do any chasidim have the custom not to eat in the sukkah at
all on Shmini? 

   c) from Zev Sero, our baal kriah: 
   He has never understood why, if we are supposed to eat in the
Sukkah on Shmini, we don't say Geshem on Simchat Torah: the sfeika
d'yoma would let S"T still be the time for Geshem, and then there
wouldn't be the conflict (is this an appropriate place for the term
"tartei d'satrei"?) of eating in the sukkah vs. praying whole-
heartedly for rain.

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 07:44:51 EDT
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com (Kenneth G Miller)
Re: Avodah V2 #17 - Counting Days for Sheva Berachos

Chana Luntz asked <<< Does anybody know what happens with sheva brochas
if the chossen-kala cross the international date line? >>>, and also
regarding a bris.

This is a great question. I'm also curious about it. A third one where
this question could be asked is for nidah questions.

I would not dare suggest any practical answer on this lmaaseh, but just
as food for thought, let me suggest the following: In contrast to
questions about when to keep Shabbos or how to count sefiras haomer when
crossing the date line (which have been discussed extensively in recent
literature), these questions seem to be independent of the calendar, and
relate specifically to counting the days which pass. Perhaps the answer
to Ms. Luntz's questions might be to count the evenings and ignore the
date line.

Another question which might be a fourth, like the three above -- or
perhaps it is more comparable to Shabbos and Sefira -- would be the daily
prayers. For example, if one has already davened Shacharis, and crosses
the date line from 9 AM Tuesday to 9:01 AM Wednesday, does he need to
daven again because it is a new day? What if he did *not* daven yet, and
goes from 9 AM Tuesday to 9:01 AM Monday? Is he possibly patur because he
already said Shacharis on Monday? Now, suppose he is on a Friday or
Sunday morning flight, and for whatever reasons, the plane has crossed
over into Shabbos. The question of whether or not to say Kiddush may or
may not be relevant to the question of what to daven.

[WARNING ! WARNING ! This entire thread has nothing to do with the
*location* of the Date Line. The position of the halachic Date Line is a
subject of considerable controversy, and you can discuss it if you want,
but this discussion is an entirely separate one, concerning one who
crosses it, wherever it might happen to be.]

Akiva Miller

You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com
or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 10:13:17 -0400
From: mluchins@Zweig-Dimenna.com
Re: Avodah V2 #18

Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 18:01:17 -0400
From: Harry Maryles <>
Subject: Inclusiveness or Elitism, The Future of Judaism hangs in the

Inclusiveness or Elitism, The Future of Judaism hangs in the Balance

I've been away from the list for awhile due to the intense nature of my
business during these Yomim Tovim, but I have finally been able to catch
up with all of the posts that were of interest to me.

Of particular interest to me was the post by Chana Luntz about the child
who was denied entry to a religious day school because her parents
weren't "frum" enough!  I was of course, outraged as I am sure many on
this list were.  Unfortunately, I was not surprised.  I believe that the
attitude expressed by that particular day school is at the heart of
what, to me, has become the most significant negative development in
  The problem is that, for those of us who don't reject
all of western culture as "evil" but are equally committed to Torah
Judaism, we are automatically, by charedi definition, eliminated as
potential parents in any of those schools.  Why? Because the RW does not
want their children to associate with our children who bring the
negative influences of western culture with them to school and may "Chas
VeSholem" (!) discuss values with the Charedi Children.  How Sad!...
How True!

I don't deny the right of anyone to believe that isolation is the answer
to their concerns that their children not have non Torah influences in
their lives.  Certainly, we all want to limit negative influences as
much as possible to our children. But the problem is twofold: 1) how to
define what is negative, what is positive, and what is neutral.  It is
easy for the Right Wing to DEFINE all of western culture as negative and
then just eliminate it in its entirety. Or at least try.  2) the virtual
impossibility of eliminating all western culture when it is so pervasive
in our society.

There are in reality only two approaches to dealing with the negative
values foisted upon us by western society.  1) insulating to the extreme
as the RW constantly urges, and 2)  By teaching the proper approaches to
situations  .  IMHO,  Isolation is a poor choice.  It is a virtual
impossibility to totally isolate our children from western culture (as
the RW would have all of Klal Israel in the West do).

The best approach, I believe, (and I hope all on this list would agree)
is to limit the amount of anti Torah values that come into our
children's lives,  to teach our children the proper approach to those
negative values when they  inevitably will come into contact with them,
and even expose them to some of those negative values in the light of
the Torah  so that they will know how to deal with them properly on
their own.  The positive elements of western culture are to be
encouraged so that our children can drink from the fonts of worldly
wisdom and enjoy the benefits bestowed upon mankind through the ages by
dint of technological and sociological advancement and, indeed,
participate in advancing the process on their own,  should they so
desire.  As long as everything is done within the framework of Halacha.

The RW approach is the "Chas VeSholom" approach.  Chas VeSholem that our
Children be exposed to any of Western Society, as anything western is
characterized as inherently evil.   Bombard them with Torah values, and
keep them as isolated as possible.

But, even assuming their position on Western Culture is correct, how can
we totally eliminate external influences?   You can't turn on a radio or
open up a newspaper without being exposed to the all encompassing
western culture.  (I've already seen articles and ads in "The Jewish
Observer" and the "Yated Ne-eman" excoriating the use of radio, any of
the secular newspapers, and the Internet.)  In the summer, walk down any
street in Chicago or Tel-Aviv or even Jerusalem and it is impossible not
to notice the immodesty of dress on the part of the secular world ( a
standard of modesty created in and perpetuated by Hollywood - i.e.
Western Culture.)  The point is it cannot be avoided.  There are many
other such examples of the overwhelming presence of Western Culture.
Isn't it better to acknowledge it's existence and to teach our children
how to deal with it rather than just totally isolate, and let "chance"
dictate when and how our children will be exposed to it?

This brings me back to my original point, the growing trend towards
elitism in education.  A few years ago my daughters attended Hanna Sacks
Girls High School here in Chicago.  This school had as it's Vaad
HaChinuch Roshei Yeshiva from Telshe, Beis Hamedrash LaTorah, Yeshivas
Brisk, and The Lakewood Community Kollel, representing the entire
spectrum of Orthodox Judaism in Chicago.  The faculty and student body
consisted of the same spectrum.  It was a beautiful scenario.  There was
interaction between differing segments of orthodox society, each
learning about the hashkafos of the other.  It enabled reflective
thought and deeper understanding of Yahdus.   But the more heterogenous
the school became, the more the RW portion of the parent body wanted
out.  Ultimately, after asking R. Elia Svei a Shailo, a new school was
created for the expressed purpose of dissociating with the likes of
those of us who do not reject all of western culture.  In other words
they created a school that would effectively eliminate as much of
western culture and it's adherents as possible.  A school that would
only take like minded parents who would reinforce those ideals at home.
  This created an unbelievable machlokes in Chicago at the time.
Instead of cross fertilization of the minds of our children, there was a
complete separation.  I think in the end both schools lost out in the
sense that each is missing a piece of yahdus that is reflective of
certain hashkafos no longer available to all students.  And since the RW
school sets itself up as the mainstream school, Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov
(the name was changed in an effort to compete for some of their
students) is thus marginalized as "Crum".  Meanwhile you can't get into
their school unless you are "frum" enough, a conundrum for them that
they can't possibly justify.

(As an aside I would just like to state for the record that Hanna Sacks
Bais Yaakov is a superior educational institution in both limudei Kodesh
and Limudei Chol under the leadership of Mrs. Shoshana Bechoffer, the
talented wife of Rabbi YGB.)

Elitism is in, inclusiveness is out.  What a loss for Klal Israel.


     With all due respect I think you are only looking at half of the
problem.  For the past nine summers I have worked in a kiruv program for
high school students and  we often have public school students who want to
attend MO high schools and (quite often) even after getting their parents
permission are turned down by MO schools.  Elitism is an equal opportunity
problem in our wider community.

     I do not know what happened in Chicago but unfortunately the problems
you refer to happen in both directions.  I just spent Yom Tov in a
community where the coed day school which has been around for years  is
trying to reopen its separate boys high school, but is getting killed by
the fact that the "left wing" of the MO community insists on a coed high
school despite the fact that were told by Rabbi Riskin ( I did not hear
this from Rav Riskin, but around town from reliable sources)  that in this
particular community a separate high school is appropriate.

     Also "marginalization" works in both directions and hopefully lists
like this will cut down on this self destructive habit of ours.

     A noted writer one said "Jews are the only ethnic group that form a
firing squad in a circle."

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 10:53:00 -0400
From: "Michael Poppers" <MPoppers@kayescholer.com>
Acharon-shel-... leining

BT M'gi'lah 35 discusses the k'ri'as ha'torah for the various mik'ro'ai
kodesh.  In my edition of the BT, the leining for not only the last day of
Pessach but also Sh'mi'ni Atzeres is listed as starting with "Kal
ha'b'chor..." (D'varim 15:19) -- perhaps I was temporarily blind (and/or
sleep-deprived), but I didn't see the b'rai'sa listed by the source-quoting
commentator to OC 658 which apparently states that the leining for Sh'mi'ni
Atzeres she'chal b'Shabbos instead starts with "Assair t'assair..."
(D'varim 14:22).  In any case, that same commentator also writes that the
Tur notes to lein from the earlier point whether or not Sh'mi'ni Atzeres
occurs on Shabbos, and this is noted by RaShY upon M'gi'lah 35a as well.  I
would like to raise a few minor points & request comments from the tzibbur
(to use R'EClark's word):
(1) I find it interesting that the Tur would mention this communal practice
[l'halachah?] when I see no mention of it by RAsh (NB: I haven't yet seen
the Tur's comments for myself).  My Yad Hachazakah is packed in a box
pending our move to a house, but I would guess that not only RAsh but none
of the non-Ashkenazic g'dolim of that or subsequent generations quote
RaShY's comment in whole or in part and wonder what led to the practice
starting as late as RaShY's time.  If I understand the GRa's comment (on OC
658) correctly (and, mea culpa, I didn't take the time to reread it), could
there have been a diff. girsah in the g'mara which would have led to the
(2) The minhag in "Breuer's" (and, possibly, shuls with a minhag from a
city besides Frankfurt-am-Main) is not only to lein from the earlier point
only when Sh'mi'ni Atzeres occurs on Shabbos (i.e. not like RaShY but in
accordance with OC 658) but also to lein from the earlier point on Acharon
shel Pessach when it occurs on Shabbos, which appears to per se have no
source.  Any [non-flippant!] thoughts re this "lo p'lug"-type of practice
(such as whether it is limited to Pessach & Sukkos because of the
"chami'shi-chami'shi" connection) are welcome.  TIA.


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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 12:53:34 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
more on mesora

Richard Wolpoe wrote:

     Let's say we invented a time machine and proved beyond a shadow of a 
     doubt that during the time of the Mishno everyone wore Rabbein Tam 
     Tefillin (see below)  Would that verifyiable and dublicatable 
     discovery influence OUR mesorah?  IMHO  no way.  

I agree.  Once a mesora has taken hold, it should be at least considered
minhag, which should not be lightly reversed.

As for the other opinions that differ, as long as we have opinions to rely on,
we have nothing to worry about.  Actually, this impacts on an earlier
discussion, about accepting as many non-contradictory chumros on an issue.
Here we see that we do not simply wear R. Tam's t'fillin, as a non-
contradictory chumra to Rashi t'fillin.  Rather, one mesora clearly rejects
this notion, by not wearing R. Tam's t'fillin.  This would seem to argue that
p'sak is deciding an issue and rejecting those opinions that disagree, and not
merely following many opinions "to play it safe".

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 13:27:44 -0400
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
Re: inappropriate statement

Shraga Rothbart wrote:

1.  . . . This sounds like Shauls hesitancy to kill Agag and the spoil of
Amalek on "ethical considerations" which was obviously wrong and
therefore he lost thekingdom

It is not clear to me that Shaul's conduct was motivated by ethical
considerations.  Why would Agag and all the sheep and cattle have been
ethically more worthy of rahamanut than all the women and children that
were slaughtered?  The scripture does use the verb "vayahamol" to
describe the decision to spare the animals and the king, but that doesn't
necessarily tell us what his motivation was.  Even if he was motivated
by feelings of mercy, there was something seriously wrong with his
ethics if he spared a vicious killer like Agag (as Shmuel made sure to
observe before running Agag through with a sword).  Shaul's sin was in
allowing himself to be swayed by the people who, instead of being
conscientious in performing the awesome command of the Almighty,
wished to turn the terrible event into the occasion for a celebration.  See
Shmuel's rebuke to Shaul, "Im katonta b'einecha, rosh shivtei yisrael
atah."  It was for his weakness as a leader, not for standing by ethical
principles, that the kingship was withdrawn from Shaul.

2. The statement of R'Akiva etc. is understood by the Rambam in Hilchos
Sanhedrin 14:10 to just mean that the Beis Din must be very careful and
deliberate, but not CHas Vshalom to mean that they meant that they
would try to subvert the intention of the Torah because they felt
"uncomfortable" with it. 

"Uncomfortable" was a very bad choice of words on my part.  I agree
that an obligation to perform a particular act or engage in a course of
conduct cannot, in any way, be mitigated by how the conduct makes us
"feel."  The question is what to do when a particular course of conduct
that we are required to engage in entails the violation of other obligations
to which we are also subject.   

3. I believe that your statement about Chazal's interpretation of Ben
Sorer is outside the bounds of accepted traditional Orthodox theology
(Forgive me if I misunderstood or am wrong!) CHazal don't "feel
uncomfortable" and then interpert part of the Torah out of existence.

I agree.  I did not express myself properly. 

Either Chazal had a mesorah how to understand the pesukim or they 
used the midos that they had from Sinai etc. based upon a mesorah. But
to say that Chazal approached a topic with a preconcieved idea and then
interperted it in a way that was consistent with that rather then let the
Torah speak to them is a Conservative  or Reform  way of looking at
Chazal. See Hirsch's Collected Writings and his taking Graetz to task. 

But when was the last time you heard the shofar blown on Shabbat
Rosh Hashanah?  Did Chazal think that it never occurred to the Ribono
shel Olam that someone might mistakenly carry the shofar on Shabbat if
required to hear the shofar blown on Shabbat.  Nevertheless, the Torah
requires the shofar to be blown on Shabbat.  But Chazal reached a
different conclusion and negated the d'oraita obligation to hear the
Shofar blown on Rosh Hashanah.  Do you think that Chazal were less
concerned about the shedding of innocent blood than desecration of the

4. I cant help but be amused with your attempt to reconcile Torah with
Humanism as if Humanism is of such great value that we should use it as
the standard by which we judge Torah. 

If the book of Jonah is not an expression of humanism, I don't know what
is.  Or what about the midrash in which the Almighty rebukes the angels
for singing shirah during kriyat yam suf.  "Ma'asei yadai tov'im ba-yam,
v'atem omrim shirah?" Or "gadol ha-adam she-nivra b'zelem elokim."

At any rate it clearly makes no difference whether you say ovdei
kochavim or umos clearly the ability of a person to be metamai is not
based upon their actions but on their intrinsic nature (no one would ever
suggest that a Jew who practices avodah zara would not be metamai!)
and therefore it really is the same idea that Jews are metamai and not
goyim As anyone familiar with Gem knows, the expression akum or oved
avodah zara is used interchangibly with goy in many places  (partially
due to concerns of censors)

Your argument is persuasive.  On the other hand, Rashi explicitly notes
that the residents of Ninveh were idolators.  Why was it necessary for
Rashi to point that out?  Or was he afraid that someone might think that
Ninveh was a Jewish city?

5. Your explanation of R' SHimeon's original statement as that the corpes
of gentiles are not metamai and that Ravina "cut and pasted and created
a radically new halachah"  is utterly absurd. Ravina is explaining R'
SHimeon's position R' Shimeon himself said specifically the graves of
gentiles and not the corpeses. (See Rashi also in the original statement
of R" SHimeon) 

I'm sorry.  I don't think that you have read the Gemara carefully.  The
statement of R. Shimon in the beraita does refer to graves.  All Rashi
does is to note that the ritual impurity of graves is transmitted upward to
anyone who traverses the grave by the principle of "ohel."  But the later
shakla v'taria of the beraita (or the Gemara) in which the Chachamim (or
their proxies) challenge the position of R. Shimon based on the ritual
impurity of the soldiers returning from the Midianite war proves that in the
initial machloket between R. Shimon and the Chachamim, no distinction
was made between maga u'masa and ohel.  Otherwise why did R.
Shimon (or his proxy) have to resort to the implausible assertion that
soldiers were ritually impure from having touched the corpses of fallen
Jewish soldiers?

If anything Ravina is being strict with R' Shimeon's position that even
though he claims that the graves are not metamai with ohel still the body
is metamai through touching.

Strict compared to R. Shimon's position, but lenient compared to the
Chachamin who reject (as Tosafot explicitly observe on the daf in d.h.
kivrei akum einan m'tamin ba-ohel and d.h. "v'ein akum k'ruim adam) R.
Shimon's drasha "atem k'ruim adam."

Amoraim don't create new positions or leniencies out of air in a
machlokes of Tannaim! (I also wonder where you got the idea that the
halachah was a certain way for 2-300 years?) I think this also shows a
total distortion of the Halachicprocess

All Ravina is creating out of air is a previously unrecognized distinction
between tumat maga u'masa and tumat ohel.  This allows him to follow
the position of the Chachamim (against R. Shimon) that gentile corpses
do transmit defilement via direct contact and that of R. Shimon (against
the Chachamim) that gentile corpses don't transmit defilement via ohel. 
Ravina as the acharon is paskening like one opinion in one case (maga
u'masa) and like another opinion in the other case (ohel) based on the
chidush that the two cases don't have to be treated alike.  (Thanks to
Mechy Frankel who helped me restate this point more clearly (I hope)
than I did on my first try, though by mentioning him in this context I do not
mean to implicate him in any other opinions that I have recently posted.) 
My assumption is that Ravina formulated the chidush that the halacha of
tumat maga need not be identical with tumat ohel.  Before his chidush,
the halachah, as is evident from the shakla v'taria of the sugya, either
followed the opinion of the Chachamim across the board or that of R.
Shimon across the board.  In such a machloket, the presumption is that
the halachah would follow the opinion of the Chachamim against that of
R. Shimon.  (yachid v'rabim halachah k'rabim) 

David Glasner

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 13:34:29 -0400
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
Chasam Sofer on sevara

Rabbi YGB wrote:

R' Elie and R' Shraga have dealt thoroughly and powerfully with
statements that I, too, consider inappropriate, to say the least, but I do
want to point out that it is not this kind of sevara that Chazal praised -
meaning every "perspective" we, in our limited understanding of
Creation, good, evil, reward and punishment, bring to bear. This is not a
question of "logic" - although you may phrase it that way - but of
"morality" - and you are blurring a distinction in a manner that, with
respect, I find borders on sophistry.

First of all, thank you for the friendly tone of your posting.  Second, I
don't think that you are reading what I wrote correctly.  When I spoke
about a sevara, I was not refering to "perspectives" but to bedrock
principles of good and evil, right and wrong that are shared in common
by all decent, moral human beings and which even most indecent and
immoral human beings pay lip service to.  

Further, R' David, as a descendant of the "Dor Revi'i" are you not also a
descendant of the Chasam Sofer. Recall his beautiful interpretation in the
Teshuvos 6:85 of the Gemara at the beginning of Bameh Madlikin on
"Anan k'etzba b'kira l'sevara" - we are like a finger twisting wax in every
which direction when it comes to sevara - if the CS said that about his
own sevaros, anan ketilei kanya b'agma, ma neima?

Thank you for the reference to the Chasam Sofer.  Your b'kius in his
t'shuvot certainly far exceeds my own, which I regret to say, is
practically nill.  However, thanks to my friend Mechy and his trusty
computer, I obtained a print-out of this t'shuva on erev Sh'mini Atzeret
(which was, by the way, the 74th yahrzeit of the Dor Revi'i who was
niftar in Yerushalayim ir ha-Kodesh during hakafot).  As I suspected (for
reasons that will become clear momentarily) it is clear from the t'shuva
that the sevara that the Chasma Sofer was refering to was the sevara
of pilpul and the Chasam Sofer was, to say the least, not overly found of
pilpulistic reasoning.  On the contrary, the Chasam Sofer seems to say
that there are often fairly obvious sevarot that occur to a person initially
and it is only by "drei'ing a-hin und a-her" that we, motivated by "ahavat
ha-nitzuah," avoid the obvious sevara that comes naturally to mind.  This
sort of pilpul and convoluted reasoning is exactly what the Dor Revi'i rails
against in his hakdamah (4b).  To support his stand against pilpul the Dor
Revi'i cites another t'shuvah of the Chasam Sofer published at the end of
his hidushim to Ketubot, in which the Chasam Sofer replies to a rabbi
who wished to engage the Chasam Sofer in a pilpulistic discussion.  The
Chasam Sofer wrote that his practice was never to engage in such
discussions and proceeds to explain why.  In so doing he makes the
observation "ki ha-d'hukim rubam amiti'im," the meaning of which the Dor
Revi'i explains as follows:  "The direct (yisharah) sevara was always
the mistress that could not be unseated from its dominion.  And in order
to uphold an incontrovertible sevara, [Chazal] would twist the words of
the earlier ones that seem to imply the contrary.  So we see that the
masters of the Talmud did with the Mishnah and beraita.  Though they
had no permission to differ with them if a contradiction was found
between them and the saying of an Amora, they answered "hisurei
mehs'ra" and entered into forced readings of the text of the Mishnah to
uphold their direct and clear reasoning.  And this was the meaning of the
Chasam Sofer when he wrote "ki ha-d'hukim rubam amiti'im." 

David Glasner

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 14:37:59 EDT
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
more on humanism

Joel Rich, in response to an ongoing discussion raises the following:

<< It seems la"d that the first paragraph does not represent mutually
 opinions. My understanding is that it's a given that ratzon hashem is
 paramount-the challenge is to understand exactly what the ratzon hashem is.
 doing so we employ halachic principles including dracheha darcei noam on a
 macro basis which, in some cases, may yield a more "humanistic" result-but
 the result that we believe to be the ratzon hashem. 

The case of tanur shel achnai, to me, seems to argue against this.  We are not
trying to figure out what is r'tzon HaShem is in a specific situation ( He let
us know this via the miracles and bas kol, regardless of why they were
ignored, they were strong evidence of a Heavenly opinion ).  

Rather, the r'tzon HaShem is that we follow the system He set up, and take it
to the conclusions of our own logic.  I heard that R. YB Soloveitchik
explained the conclusion of the g'mara ( nitzchuni banai ) as not meaning that
they beat Me through My own system ( nitzchuni coming from l'natzeach - to win
).  Rather it comes from the word nezach - eternal - and means My children
have made Me eternal.  Had Chazal at that time heeded the bas kol, that would
have spelled the end of the halachic system, for whenever a machlokes arose,
the rabbis would have turned to Heaven for an answer.  R. Yehoshua was
emphatic that the system is OURS now, and we must come to our own conclusions.

This also applies to explicit mitzvos in the Torah.  Has anyone followed ayin
tachas ayin literally?  It is unconscionable to do so, for the punishment
could not be meted out to exactly fit the crime.  The g'mara ( Bava Kama, 83:
) uses this exact argument:  Lo salka daatach.  The g'mara then brings a
drasha to back this up.  And then the g'mara says, v'im nafshach lomar, 'If
you still want to say what was previuosly thought to be unthinkable', here's
another drasha to show you are wrong.

Conscience, I think, does play a role in deciding halacha. But just as not all
conclusions that can be made using the 13 middot are halachically correct, as
they must follow within the system of halacha, likewise, not all
considerations of conscience can be seen as being automatically correct within
the halachic universe.  And especially if Chazal were unwilling to take a
stand based on conscience ( and I think they too did not take lightly the
obligation to destroy the sheva amamin ), we, who are certainly more prone to
allow outside influences into our decision making processes, should not make
such judgements.

Eliyahu Teitz

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