Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 080

Monday, June 7 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 22:38:58 EDT
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
geirus ba'al korcha

 Just before Shavuos I raised the problem of the geirus of Mattan Torah being 
ba'al korcham (kafah aleihem har kigigis - Shabbos 88).  On this week's 
parsha the Shav Shameitza asks how Moshe could seperate from his wife when he 
had not yet been mekayem peru u'revu - his former children were no longer his 
because ger shenitgayer k'katan shenolad.  He answers that the geirus of 
Mattan Torah was ba'al korcham and on geirus ba'al korcham we don't apply the 
rule of k'katan shenolad (ayen sham; he discusses further).  I'm still amazed 
that the makor of hil. geirus is a case that doesn't conform to the most 
basic principle of geirus - kabbalat hamitzvot!


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Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 23:00:25 EDT
From: JoshHoff@aol.com
Re: Avodah V3 #79chulin 126b

In a message dated 99-06-05 22:00:41 EDT, you write:

 A concrete example: see Chulin 126b.  Do you believe that mice spontaneously 
 generate from dirt?  As for a non-literal reading: given the historical fact 
 that spontaneous generation would be logical to a contemporary ofg Chazal's 
 in the 4-5 century, is there any reason to assume they held such a different 
 paradigm? >>
 See on this passage article by Dr.Lemian in Hazon Nahum, pp.449-458:" 
R.Israel Lipshutz and the Mouse That Is Half Flesh And Half Earth:A Note On 
Torah U-Madda in the Nineteenth Century/"

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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 00:39:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
Lashon Hara -- and One's Spouse

> From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: "Psychological Needs"
> You have missed my point for the second time on the same issue.  I
> *did* discuss this issue with 2 poskim and I heard of psak in the
> name of a third.

===> As I said earlier, it was not clear if the poskim cited stated that
"psychological needs" are *automatically* considered to'eles.

> Certainly poskim do take psychological needs into account.  My point
> is that the MB does not seem to do so and this reflects on his status
> as a posek.

===> I am not sure that is true (as I originally noted).  Once a matter
has been defined as a specific benefit in a particular situation, it seems
that the CC would agree that is to'eles.  The fact that the CC does nto
cite every specific instance of to'eles does not seem to reflect upon the
CC nor uopn his "status as a posek"...

> > For
> > example,
> > with s tough boss, what is this "need to vent"?  It *sounds* as if
> > there
> > is a need to "tell L"H to *someone*".  What is the to'eles in such
> > a
> > recitation?  
> You obviously work in an easy field.  I just had a non-Jewish boss &
> non-Jewish client yell at me for nearly 2 hours this past week and I
> went home completely stressed-out (with my stomach literally in
> knots), feeling like a rag and that I must be deficient.  I talked it

===> Side query: is there an issur of L"H with a non-Jewish Boss?
Also: a person who is so stressed out that the "stomach is in knots" seems
to be dealing with more than "psychological needs".  I suspect that NO
posek would prohibit doing something about that.  However, there are two
distinct aspects that I would like to mention:
A. The stress and
B. The problem.

It *seems* that one can mention the Stress without mentioning L"H -- e.g.,
"Had an aweful day -- was really beaten up -- and feel horrible and wiped
out -- just like a dish rag".  Here, the point is that one's feelings are
validated and one is made to feel as having self-worth.

Discussing the Problem -- e.g., "what to do about my situation? Change
jobs? Talk to the Boss? etc. etc. are "regular" to'eles issues.  That is,
if there is a "reasonable" belief that the person you are consulting
("your wife") will be able to help you successfully resolve these sticky
problems, the to'eles is well-defined.

> over with my wife and we decided that I should reappraise the
> situation given the fact that (a) the client's real complaint was
> with the wishy-washy (and dilatory) advice that our foreign advisors
> had given, that (b) as the low-man on the totem pole I was more
> likely to be blamed than anyone else, and that (c) the boss' claim as
> to what he had told me was a reinterpretation of events in light of
> the client's anger.

===> See above.  

> This reminds of the difference of opinion between R. Abraham Amsel
> (who denies the importance of dealing with the subconscious and tries
> to create a "Jewish psychology" just based on sifrei mussar) and R.
> Moshe Halevy Spero (who takes psychology seriously).

===> And, what does Spero state about this matter??

> As to your point about whether the 20th century is any different than
> the past, the fact is that the rates of (recorded) depression have
> increased tremendously during the past couple of decades.  Today, 25%
> (I seem to recall) of all people have experienced clinical
> depression.  

===> The fact that an era is "more stressful" does not mean that ChaZaL
were not aware of these issues.  Also, there may be OTHER halachically
acceptable ways in which to deal with a problem that could be explored by
consulting with a posek.

> > OTOH, if one is asking advice what to do, or how to
> > accept
> > what has happened -- the to'eles seems clearly enough defined that
> > we do
> > not need a new category.  Perhaps, if the Boss is Jewish, a Rov
> > could help
> > with issues of how to speak to the Boss 
> Sometimes bosses just don't want to admit that they're the ones at
> fault.  Sometimes it makes sense to deal with your hurt on your own.

===> In which case a posek can provide the halachic guidance as to how to
do that, as well.

> - --- Yzkd@aol.com wrote:
> > In a message dated 6/3/99 9:22:29 PM EST, weissz@idt.net writes:
> > 
> > >  ChaZaL who seemed to have been pretty astute about people and
> > >  their feelings knew nothing about "psychological needs"?
> > 
> > Further more the whole Mitzvah of Tochocho is based on this need
> > and to avoid 
> > Lo Sisnoh Es Ochicho Bilvovecho, Torah defines what is the proper
> > way to vent 
> > furstration.
> But there are certain parameters of Tochacha: one does not do it
> where it is unlikely to work.  It is rare that an underling can
> successfully be mo'che'ach a boss, especially where the boss believes
> the underling to be at fault (and believe me, I've tried).

===> IF dealing with a Jewish Boss, it seems that it is not so clear that
tochecha will not work (the example cited was a Non-Jewish boss).  Also,
this may be another instance of where a posek can advise HOW to
effectively be mochee'ach.  For example, in the case above (assuming that
it DID onvolve a Jew), was a posek consulted before attempting tochecha?
Not because it is "required" to do so -- but to provide the proper
guidance in HOW to do it... 


> Kol tuv,
> Moshe

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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 00:46:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
"When is it To'eles"

> From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: L"H (and Newspapers?)
> I asked poskim specifically, in a situation where one has been yelled
> at or otherwise criticized by a boss, whether it is permissible to
> speak to one's wife in order to vent and come to psychological grips
> with the situation and thereby put one's mind more at ease.  The
> comparison I made was to what people often do when they see a
> psychologist about a particular interpersonal problem.  Those who are
> matir (R. Dovid Weinberger -- advisor to CCHF, and Rav Aharon
> Lichtenstein --quoted to me by Yossi Prager) believe that the
> psychological benefits constitute to'elet.

===> Thank you.  However, in this case, a very specific situation has been
formulated and the "psychological benefits" were defined in terms of that
situation.  This means (to me) that even the CC would regard this as
to'eles.  It also seems (to me) to indicate that each instance of
"psychological need" has to be considered.

> I separate said that (Yossi Prager in the name of) R. Aharon
> Lichteinstein said he is unsure whether it may permissible to
> communicate all information to one's wife, based on the concept of
> ishto k'gufo, presumably with the proviso that one is not making the
> communication with the specific goal of spreading negative
> information (cf. Rambam Hilchot De'ot 7:5, dealing with LH which was
> already said b'apei tlat).

===> What is the basis for the application of "Ishto K'Gufo" here?  The
Gemara seems to use the concept in specific cases.  Secondly, the CC is
pretty strict about applying the "heter" of "B'apei Tlat")


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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 00:59:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@idt.net>
Re: Avodah V3 #78

> From: Moshe Feldman <moshe_feldman@yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: Lashon Hara
> - -- Harry Weiss <hjweiss@netcom.com> wrote:
> > There is a bigger question is there any toelet in venting.  Shortly
> > after 
> > the Columbine shooting I attended a lecture by R. Leibl Wolff.   He
> > spoke 
> > quite a bit that the American/Western viewpoing of  venting and not
> > 
> > holding something in is a disirable thing.  He felt that on the
> > contrary, 
> > venting just increased the anger and caused more harm then good.
> >
> I would not emphasize the "venting" aspect as much as the benefit of 
> understanding what happened and coming to psychological grips with
> it.  

===> In this case, then, the to'eles may not even be "psychological" but
simply "solving a problem".  If that is the case, then maybe the emphsais
should *be* on "problem-solving".

> R. Wolff is entitled to his opinion and psychologists are entitled to
> theirs.  I would think that in order to prove "to'elet" one need not
> prove the efficacy of a treatment but merely that one truly believes
> it be beneficial.  Compare to chilul Shabbat for a medical procedure:
> I don't have to prove that the entire medical community is in favor
> of a certain treatment but that the doctor at hand believes it to be
> efficacious.

===> By Chilul Shabbat, it is not clear that a procedure that is "not
accepted" can always be used.  Isn't this where get in to "Baki" issues
and "Rov Da'os" issues?  If that is so, then the fact that one *thinks* a
procedure will help would not be a matir.  In addition, where we DO accept
such reasoning (e.g., by the midwife who is lighting a candle to re-assure
the mother...) the basis is that the anxiety is itself a significant
danger -- again, I don't know that that logic applies here.  Is there a
specific source that one merely has to *believe* that something is
effective for it to be considered "to'eles"?  I would also note that given
the general suspicion that I have seen vis-a-vis the Mental Health
profession (because they "profession" has taken such views as the
"acceptance" of homosexuality) -- it does not automatically follow that R.
Wolff is incorrect and his opinion should not be dismissed "out of hand".
What would be more "interesting" is to see hwo he relates to the cited
P'sak Halacha that has already been mentioned.


> Kol tuv,
> Moshe

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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 11:11:41 EDT
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Olam Habah - and the Non-Jew

In a message dated 6/4/99 10:34:03 AM EST, DGLASNER@FTC.GOV writes:

> It's one thing to accept that the Beit Din shel Ma'alah cannot compel the 
> Beit Din shel Matah to accept the opinion of the Beit Din shel Ma'alah.  
> BM 59.  I must say, however, that I find it a bit strange to say that the 
> Beit Din shel Matah can compel the Beit Din shel Ma'alah to accept the 
> opinion of the Beit Din shel Matah. 
The whole point of that Gemoroh is "Nitzchuni Bonai Nitzchuni" that once 
Torah was given at Mount Sinai, the final decision is given to humans, (with 
exceptions brought in Tosfos Veod), when B"D ruled something is Tohor all 
punishments associated with Tumas Mikdas Vkodoshov is denied, for B"D Shel 

However as to your 2nd half, in general the first time around I kept most of 
the discussion off-line for obvious reasons, there is no evidence that my 
understanding of the issue is correct, and hence Hashtika Yofo Loh and HKB"H 
will do as he Paskened in his Torah.

Kol Tuv

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 19:27:25 -0500
From: Saul Weinreb <sweinr1@uic.edu>
Chazal and metzius

Just to correct my previous post and add to it.  The R' SR Hirsch is from a
pamphlet "Two Giants Speak" and it was published by Neve Yerushalayim in
1994.  Read chapter 4 and it is very pertinent to our discussion.  I will
quote here some of the most pertinent passages.  Vezeh Leshono (in English
translation of course):
	"In my opinion, the first principle that every student of Chazal's
statements must keep before his eyes is the following:  Chazal were the
sages of G-d's law - the receivers, transmitters, and teachers of His
toros, His mitzvos, and His interpersonal laws.  They did not especially
master the natural sciences, geometry, astronomy, or medicine - except
insofar as they needed them for knowing, observing, and fulfilling the
Torah.  We do not find that this knowledge was transmitted them from from
	"Nowadays too it is enough for the non-specialist to know about any of
these areas of knowledge whatever contemporary experts teach that is
generally accepted as true.  This applies to the lawyer vis-a-vis all other
areas, to the mathematician and the astronomer regarding regarding the
natural sciences, and to the expert on flora regarding all other areas.  We
expect none of them to seek out the truth and satisfy his inclinations in
any field other than his own specialty."
	"Moreover, even in the area where one is an expert, it is neither possible
for him nor expected of him to know everything through personal
investigation and experience.  Most of his knowledge rests upon the
investigations of others.  If they erred it is not his fault.  It is
sufficient and praiseworthy if his knowledge encompasses all that is
accepted as true at his time and place and generation.  The greatness of
his wisdom is in no way belittled if in a later generation it is discovered
that some of the things he maintained or accepted on the authority of
others is unreliable.  The same is true for Chazal in these areas.  The
greatest of them knew all the wisdom and science of all the non-Jewish
scholars whose wisdom and teachings became famous in their generations."
	...I skip a paragraph here see it inside if you can...
	"The Talmud in Bava Kama declares (16a) A human spine after seven years
turns into a snake; this applies only if he did not kneel at Modim"  Anyone
who reads this finds it laughable, but Pliny says the same statement almost
word for word (Natural History X 188) "After a number of years the human
spine turns into a snake."  Chazal, however used this to teach us a mussar
lesson.  To any mind it is clear that every similar surprising statement of
Chazal, if we look into it, was accepted as true by the scholars of the time."
	"We find that Chazal themselves considered the wisdom of the gentile
scholars equal to their own in the natural sciences.  To determine who was
right in areas where the gentile sages disagreed with their own knowledge,
they did not rely on their tradition but on reason.  Moreover they even
respected the opinion of the gentile scholars, admitting when the opinion
of the latter seemed more correct than their own.  In the Talmud we learn
(Pesachim 94b):  The Jewish sages said,  By the day the sun passes beneath
the firmament and at night above it.  The sages of the nations maintained,
By day beneath the firmament and at night beneath the ground. and Rabi said
 Their opinion seems more correct than ours."
	"To my thinking, this clearly proves what I have been saying.  This is my
approach to the study of these areas with my limited faculties.  If I have
erred, may HaShem forgive my errors."
	Sorry I said Plato instead of Pliny, seven years pregnancy of a snake
instead of the spine turning into a snake, and Aish HaTorah instead of Neve
Yerushalayim.  However the point is understood.  I hope that i was able to
enrich this discussion.
Shaul Weinreb

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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 13:44:02 -0400
From: "sweinr1@icarus.cc.uic.edu" <sweinr1@icarus.cc.uic.edu>
Lashon Harah

As part of the lashon harah thread, i would like to raise the question to
a different level. What if as part of therapy with a psychotherapist one
reveals things that would otherwise certainly be considered lashon harah.
I could think of two tzedadim off the bat. Number one is that of course
it should be assur, and number twi is that maybe we could be mattir on the
basis of the hetter to say lashon harah in cases of shidduchim and business
partnerships and other areas. Maybe since the ultimate purpose of this
revelation, one might argue, is for shalom, and maybe even health, and it
is protected by professional privilege it may be muttar. I'd like to hear
what the list has to say.

Shaul Weinreb

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Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 13:37:35 -0400
From: "sweinr1@icarus.cc.uic.edu" <sweinr1@icarus.cc.uic.edu>
metzius and chazal

If I recall correctly, I remember reading an essay by R' Shamshon Rephael
Hirsch ZT'L in which he stated that Chazal took much of their understanding
of science from the general scientific knowledge of the day. I remember
him giving the example of Chazal's understanding that a snake is pregnant
for seven years and he quoted Plato as making the same statment to back up
his assertion that chazal were only basing their words on the scientists of
their time. I remember him saying how if the greatest naturalist of your
day would come and tell you a particular fact about the natural world that
had no contradiction to the Torah, why wouldn't you believe it? In the same
respect chazal trusted Plato. (The essay was in a little booklet put out by
Aish HaTorah entitled something like "Two Giant Speak") To say that chazal
erred in metzius is no different from saying that they were well read in
the sciences of their time. If anything, maybe we should learn from them
and read up about what science has discovered in our time. The halachachic
principles of chazal were learned from the Torah and are immutable, but it
is certainly not heresy to believe that chazal consulted the scientists when
it was necessary to render halachic decisions when the metzius was relevent.
Any more then it is heretical for HaRav Moshe to consult a physician when
asked to render an important halachic medicaL decision. If it turns out that
ten years later medical science has advanced and the halachic decision was
based on faulty medical principles does that make Rav Moshe wrong? I don't
think so, and yet I don't think that anyone on this list would claim that
we should continue to follow his original ruling.

Shaul Weinreb

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Date: Sat, 5 Jun 99 22:06:31 PDT
From: toramada@netvision.net.il
RE: Avodah V3 #76

Micha wrote:
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 10:28:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Subject: Re: Goal of Yahadus

In the early days of the list, we established that current hashkafos revolve
around one of two different concepts about what the goal of Yahadus is: d'veikus
or temimus (to use my choice of terms).
-------------------------------------------------end of quote.

I haven't read the relevant posts, but I would think that this kind of categorization 
was more suitable pre-WWII (more or less).

One of the major differences between our present world and the one the above division 
represents is the understanding that a definition such as the above is irrelevant as it 
ignores the personalities and Techunot of the people following these paths.

An old saying (that is usually said in jest) states that had Echad Ha'am, had been sent 
to a Litvische yeshiva and Bialik to a Chasidische Yeshiva - we would have had 2 more 
Gedolim today.

I think one of the advantages of the electronic age, especially with it's tendency to 
make the world smaller, is what is being termed nowadays "post modernism":  i.e. it is 
possible that a variety of paths are all the right ones - just they are right for 
different people, or as the Navi Amos says (IIRC): "Darkei Hashem Yesharot - Tzaddikim 
Yelchu Bam Ve'Resha'im Yikashlu Bam".

Instead of raising people to follow one path and forcing them onto it even if it 
doesn't appear to complement their soul, perhaps it is time to realize that different 
paths: Chassidut; Litvische;  Dati Leumi;  are actually all correct - they are all 
intended to bring us to Ahavat Hashem, the toughest challenge there is  - it's just 
that different people will find Hashem in a much better manner if they follow the 
"calling" of their soul.

I know this is pretty radical, especially for the Ashkenazi world, but I've seen too 
many young souls lost to judaism b/c their environment hated the "other" too much to 
consider sending them to study in a different kind of Yeshiva.

Shavu'a Tov,


Name: Shoshana L. Boublil
E-mail: toramada@mail.netvision.net.il
Date: 05/06/99
Time: 10:06:31 PM , Israel

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Torah U'Madah Ltd. is developing a DB on the topic:
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