Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 117

Thursday, July 8 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 00:06:11 -0400
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>

Who is "Roy Topaskin"?

a) Third Baseman for the single-A baseball team, Piedmont Boll Weevils?

b) Assistant deputy vice-chairman of Hillary Clinton's exploratory

c) Runner-up to Garth Brooks for best original country music CD?

d) Founder of the International Association of Bi-Lingual Transliterators

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Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 23:11:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: bal tshuve movements

On Wed, 7 Jul 1999, David Herskovic wrote:

> I cannot say more without risking incurring the collective wrath of our
> virtual more de'asre and rosh hokohel but to attempt to be constructive
> I think what is needed is some introspection and self assessment in the
> chareidi community in all areas and that is not happening at the moment. 
> The majority of topics discussed on this list such as history, science,
> education etc. other than halokhe are never discussed in the chareidi
> press and seldom in public. This position may conform to da'as toyre but
> then do not complain when other groups find it unpalatable. 

Let me disclaim the positions RDH allotted me. After that, let me note
that I agree that there is a paucity of independent thought "out there" -
but, as I said previously, I question the statistics, and do not think
there is any more thought in one camp than the other. Many in one camp
follow Da'as Torah without thinking and many in the other camp follow Ish
Ha'Yoshor B'Einav without thinking. For the enth time: that is why we are
all congregated here in Avodah/Aishdas.

Let me add an interesting note of an episdoe that was revelatory to me:

When I published the first version of my work on eruvin, in 1993, I asked
a certain Gadol b'Torah, no longer among us, for an haskomo. He wrote me a
very nice letter declining for a couple of reasons, among them was his
perpsective that a Ba'al Ha'Bayis should not be granted too much access to
the intricacies of the halachic system. It is for the Ba'al Ha'Bayis to do
as he is told, not to delve the depths of the halachic process.

This was the first time I had ever heard that there is such a school of
thought. While I disagree, respectfully, with the perspective upon which
it is based, it is not irrational: "Yosif da'as yosif mach'ov." The
revelation that there is such a shitta in rabbinic-lay leadership was
helpful in understanding phenomena that were hithertoo beyond me.


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: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 02:33:20 EDT
From: TROMBAEDU@aol.com
Re: Broad Torah Education shiur suggestions

In a message dated 7/7/99 8:19:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time, micha@aishdas.org 

 The concept is to provide a Fri night "d'veikus minyan" and shiurim/chaburos
 four nights per week. The key is, though, not to provide yet another gemara
 or parasha shiur, nor to replace the ones people already attend. Instead, I
 want to organize shiurim that will supplement that with some of the
 under-studied parts of Torah -- the machshavah of Chassidus and mussar,
 classic hashkafah s'farim (Emunos v'Dei'os?), Iyov, Mishlei, n'vi'im 
 I'm opening the floor for suggestions. If you had such a resource in your
 neighborhood, what would you want it to offer? >>

 First, I have to tell you that I find your ambitions regarding this project 
inspiring, and in the course of my casual contact with other communities I 
see that this kind of thing seems to be something that many are considering. 
In my community, (Teaneck), there are two "Carlebach" minyanim meeting on 
various Friday nights, as well as a burgeoning interest in Shiurim on topics 
other than the standard Gemorah/Parsha deal. Now, Carlebach minyanim may not 
be for everybody, but the interest in his music and in these minyanim among 
both the MO and Litvish worlds does indicate a desire for some kind of 
enrichment of the texture of Jewish life in communities, where, if you 
believe the rhetoric on Avodah, everything is already just fine. It is an 
encouraging development. 
As for resources, what about a series of shiurim analyzing Piyutim for Yomim 
Tovim. It coers a lot of textual work, as you could show the references in 
Tanach to which the Paytanim are referring, it gets into poetic imagery used 
for Tefillah, it certainly has a strong Kabbalistic element in many cases, 
and ultimately, it deals with the attempt to make the Tefillah experience 
more meaningful. The same could be recommended for Kinot. 
There are so many other shiurim I would love to see, such as the ones Chaim 
Brovender used to give on R' Nachman or the Maharal, or even topics which get 
discussed here regularly, like the philosophical works of the Rambam, which  
the general population (outside of Avodah, of course) still has not 
discovered. You would be amazed at how many supposedly well educated people 
have not seen the inside of Sefer Madah or Ahavah. Learning Rambam is a good 
way for people to get used to the idea that Jewish thinkers gave thought not 
just to how to understand a piece of text, but how to understsand the 


Just some thoughts,

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Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 10:41:45 +0300
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>
Re: Birkhot ha-Torah

Selection From "Women's Prayer Groups: Practice"
by Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer (in Preparation)

	R. Joseph Caro, Shulhan Arukh, O.H., sec. 47, no. 4, opines that "one
who reflects upon Torah matters", without verbalizing or writing down
(ibid. sec. 47, no. 3) his thoughts, may do so without reciting the
Birkhot (limud) ha-Torah. R. Elijah of Vilna, Bi'urei ha-Gra, O.H., sec.
47, no. 1 and 2, dissents, however, maintaining that benedictions are
required even for mere Torah contemplation (hirhur). The overwhelming
consensus of codifiers supports the position of the Shulhan Arukh. (1) 
	It should be noted, however, that many sources maintain that, while
pure reflection and contemplation upon Torah matters is permitted
without benedictions, listening attentively while someone else reads
aloud (2) or reading to oneself from a book is forbidden. (3,4)
(1) See, for example, to O.H., 47: Mishnah Berurah, subsec. 5, Arukh
ha-Shulhan, nos. 9 and 10; Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav, no. 2; Kaf ha-Hayyim,
no. 6. See also: Hayei Adam, Klal 9, no. 10 and Nishmat Adam ad loc.;
Yabia Omer, IV, sec 8, no. 21; Yalkut Yosef, I, Hilkhot Birkhat ha-Torah
no. 3; Sefer Halakhah, III, "Dinei Tehillat ha-Yom", sec. 70; Tefilla
ke-Hilkhatah, chapter 9, sec. 33 and 34; R. Ben Zion Rivkin, Be'ur
be-Inyan Birkhat ha-Torah Davka Al Torah she-bi-Khetav", Or ha-Mizrah
42:1 (Tishrei 5754) p. 71, see especially pp. 74-76. See, however, Resp.
Rivevot Ephra'im, VI, sec. 26, no. 2. R. Abraham Dovber Kahana Shapiro,
Dvar Avraham, I, sec. 16, end of no. 26 is of the opinion that the Gra
merely questions R. Caro's decision, but does not disagree with it in

(2) Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav, Hilkhot Talmud Torah, Chapt. 2, sec. 12;
Sha'arei Teshuvah, O.H. 47, sec. 3; Ben Ish Hai, va-Yeshev 12; Tehillah
le-David, O.H., 47, no. 2; R. Joseph Rosen, Resp. Tsafnat Pa'ane'ah,
sec. 276, no. 3; R. Eliezer David Greenwald, Resp. Keren le-David, O.H.
sec. 11; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Halikhot Olam, Parshat va-Yeshev, sec. 7,
s.v. "ve-ha-Rotseh", p. 57; R. Israel David Harfeness, Resp. va-Yevarekh
David, II, O.H. sec. 177; Yesodei Yeshurun, vol. I, p. 135; Resp.
Teshuvot uMinhagim, III, sec. 63; and Sefer Halakhah, III, "Dinei
Tehillat ha-Yom", sec. 69. For a survey of some of the relevant
references, see also: Yabia Omer, supra note 1, no. 18-21; Yalkut Yosef,
supra note 77, no. 4 and 5; and Birur Halakha, mahadurah tanyana, OH,
sec. 47, no. 4.
(3). R. Yair Chaim Bakhrakh, Mekor Hayyim, O.H. 47:4, s.v. "Hagah"; R.
Jacob Emden, Mor u-Ketsiah, O.H., sec. 47, s.v. "Aval ha-nireh li;" R.
Rahamim Nissim Isaac Palagi, Yafeh le-Lev, OH, sec. 47, no. 3; Ben Ish
Hai, va-Yeshev 12, prefaced by "some say"; Kaf ha-Hayyim, O.H., sec. 47,
nos. 7 and 9; R. Mordechai Eliyahu, Sefer Halakhah, Chapter 6, sec. 52.
For a survey of some of the relevant references, see also: Yabia Omer,
supra note 1, no. 18-21; and Yalkut Yosef, supra note 1, no. 4 and 5. 

(4). R. Isaac Herzog, Resp. Heikhal Yitshak, OH sec. 59 and 60;
reprinted in Psakim u-Khetavim II, She'eilot u-Teshuvot be-Dinei Orah
Hayyim, sec. 96 and 97, dissents on both these issues, maintaining that
only actual verbalization requires a benediction. Other poskim agree
with R. Herzog; see: R. Joseph Saul Nathanson, Resp. Sho'el uMeishiv,
II, part 2, sec.86; R. Shalom Mordechai ha-Kohen, Resp. Maharsham, VIII,
sec. 19; R. Isaac Dov haLevi Bamberger, Resp. Yad haLevi, I, sec. 7.
Among the scholars who maintain that reading attentively does not
require birkhot haTorah are the following: Taz, O.H., sec. 47, subsec. 3
- cited by the Be'er Heiteiv, O.H., subsec. 3 and Mishnah Berurah
subsec. 5; Arukh ha-Shulkhan, O.H., sec. 47, no. 7; R. Shalom Mordechai
Shvadran, second note to Resp. Maharsham, VIII, sec. 19; R. Solomon
Kluger, Resp. Elef leKha Shlomoh, Vol. I, O.H., sec. 35; and R. Isaac
Goldberger, responsa printed at the end of Nitei Gavriel - Hilkhot Purim
[5744 edition] - sec. 7 (the latter responsa is not found in the later
5752 edition). Additional dissenting views are cited in Yabia Omer, III,
sec. 8, nos. 18-21 and Birur Halakha, mahadurah tinyana, O.H., sec. 47,
no. 4.

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 10:45 +0200
From: BACKON@vms.huji.ac.il
Re: Permission to heal

See also the Rambam (Peyrush Hamishnayot NEDARIM 4:4) where the physician
is *obligated* to heal (not just permitted). See also the Tshuvat HaRASHBA
1:413 who adds that not only is the physcian obligated to heal but the
patient is obligated to accept treatment.

According to the most poskim, the doctor *must* be the best around and most


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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:17:44 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Dante and fervor

In v3n111, R YGB lists a number of approaches to "Torah uMadda". He omits
any mention of R' Kook. I'd be surprised if the Rav who held that the concept
of chol is illusion didn't voice an opinion on the subject of the role of
limudei chol. Anyone know if and what R' Kook holds?


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  8-Jul-99: Chamishi, Matos-Masei
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 336:10-16
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 4a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 73

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:28:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Maharal and Tycho Brahe

In v3n111, Saul Stokar <STOKASA@euromsx.gemse.fr> writes:
: via the translations of his student Boruch of Shklov. However, it should be
: borne in mind that there is no evidence that the GR"A was familiar with the
: revolutionary work of Newton (the latter died when the GR"A was 7).

Calculus according to Leibnitz is based on a notion of infintesimals that Newton
avoided by introducing the concept of limits. Either way, the whole vista of
infintesimals in math was new in the Gr"a's day. As the Gaon came up with an
early theorem in Transfinite Number Theory, it's hard to picture that he was
unaware of Newton's work in this area.

(BTW, Tosfos mention limits in their discussion of the area of a circle in
Mes. Eiruvin and Succah. R' Dr. Leon/Eliezer Ehrenpreis opened his YU calculus
course in Fall '81 with a study of this Tosfos.)


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  8-Jul-99: Chamishi, Matos-Masei
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 336:10-16
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 4a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 73

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:40:29 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: Liberal Arts

One poster mentioned "tunes ... stolen from good non-frum songwriters". I
assume the word "stolen" is being used loosely, as the Jewish singer/lyricist
will get the songwriter's permission -- and not just violate copyright. (That's
according to Lenny Solomon, author of Shlock Rock 1-n.)

I agree, though, that Jewish music has a ways to go.

Supposedly R' Shlomo Carlebach -- and therefore much of American Jewish music
-- was directly influenced by Rennesaince pre-classical melodies. One will note
that the stereotypical pasuk song the same structure as much Rennaisance dance
music. Theme 1 is slower and plainer than a second theme, and is played twice
before theme 2 is played, then return to theme 1. In contrast, non-borrowed
19th century Chassidic music tended to have three themes in the pattern 1232,
to correspond to the order of letters in Sheim Havayah.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  8-Jul-99: Chamishi, Matos-Masei
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 336:10-16
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 4a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 73

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 09:23:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: thinking for oneself

Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu> writes:
: Having said that I have a major problem with many MO.

I gotta flag this play. The same point could have been made without injecting
the kind of tone that could would only generate arguments, if anyone replies
to it at all. This is what I, and I think R' YGB, was complaining about --
not the topic as a whole.

I also want to take this opportunity to complain about the number of
metadiscussions on the list. I'm pretty sure most people are bored of reading
about what it is they ought to be reading about. To quote the JSS slogan,
let's stick to "it, not about it".

:                                                       I have been
: to many discussions in which everyone ventures an opinion without
: any knowledge. It is rare for anyone to ask me if there is anything
: in the rabbinic literature, everyone believes he knows better.

This is, of course, the opposite extreme of sheep-ishness. Aside from the
unwillingness to research the topic (which, BTW, doesn't exactly match my
experience), I personally am not sure what's so terrible about speculation on a
non-halachah l'ma'aseh. question.

So, where is the sh'vil hazahav? What's the proper balance of b'chirah and
emunas chachamim? Not that I expect a uniform answer. Perhaps we have different
movements in order to allow people to gravitate to the balance that's best
for them. If so, shouldn't we be encouraging much more fluidity between our
societal subgroupings?


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  8-Jul-99: Chamishi, Matos-Masei
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 336:10-16
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 4a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 73

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 11:20:28 -0400
From: "MARK FELDMAN" <mfeldman@CM-P.COM>
Mar'ei m'komot for R. Elchanan Wasserman & Chazon Ish

Does anyone know where R. Elachanan Wasserman & Chazon Ish have their 
exchange about  why the Talmud Bavli is binding upon us, given the fact 
that one bet din may argue upon a prior bet din (the requirement of gadol 
b'chochma u'v'minyan applies only to overturning g'zerot)?

Also, there is a good article by Shlomo Yosef Havlin on this issue.  Anyone 
know where?


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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 11:41:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu>

Micha writes
> Christian Science is based on faith to the exclusion of medicine. R' Avigdor
> Miller was suggesting that a combination of bitachon and hishtadlus is
> necessary and is sufficient even if the hishtadlus is based on incorrect
> medicine.
> It relates to a basic difference between Xianity and Yiddishkeit. They teach
> that man can't redeem himself, and therefore must rely on grace. We believe that
> the act of trying to redeem yourself is itself the means to redemption. One
> need only try one's best.

Ome thing that I have never unserstood is the insistence in certain circles
on only using the "top" doctor no matter what the expense because he is
"blessed" by G-d.

It seems to me that they end up in the absurd sitiuation in which most people
will use an "average" doctor but those with bitachon insist on only the

Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 11:44:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu>

> The concept is to provide a Fri night "d'veikus minyan" and shiurim/chaburos
> four nights per week. The key is, though, not to provide yet another gemara
> or parasha shiur, nor to replace the ones people already attend. Instead, I
> want to organize shiurim that will supplement that with some of the
> under-studied parts of Torah -- the machshavah of Chassidus and mussar,
> classic hashkafah s'farim (Emunos v'Dei'os?), Iyov, Mishlei, n'vi'im achronim,
> etc...
In my neighborhood we have several such shiurim but they are all
"narrow" based. i.e. a shiur on the though of Rav Kook, or on Rav
Soloveitchik, or on Tanya etc.
The hard part os finding someone capable of combining these together.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 11:50:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
Re: shiurim

Eli Turkl (missing "e" intentional <grin>) writes:
: In my neighborhood we have several such shiurim but they are all
: "narrow" based. i.e. a shiur on the though of Rav Kook, or on Rav
: Soloveitchik, or on Tanya etc.

: The hard part os finding someone capable of combining these together.

Why combine them in one person? I just want them in one venue.


Micha Berger (973) 916-0287          MMG"H for  8-Jul-99: Chamishi, Matos-Masei
micha@aishdas.org                                         A"H O"Ch 336:10-16
http://www.aishdas.org                                    Pisachim 4a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.         Kuzari III 73

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 11:44:23 -0400
From: "MARK FELDMAN" <mfeldman@CM-P.COM>
re: Nature and medicine

Micha Berger wrote:
<<> > BTW, R' Avigdor Miller accepts this definition, at least WRT 
medicine. He
> explains that the refu'os in the gemara really did work. Medicine doesn't
> heal, Hashem does. The purpose of going to a doctor is to render that
> healing a neis nistar instead of nigleh. Therefore, any medicine the 
> of that era thinks would work can serve equally well.>>

R. Avigdor Miller's approach depends on the broader issue of understanding 
the interrelationship of hishtadlut and bitachon.  Back in 1987, I wrote a 
paper for R. Shalom Carmy (do you remember?) dealing with this very issue.  
There is a machloket between R. Dessler and R. Bloch (of Telz) as to this 

R. Dessler believed that nature is a figment of our imagination--a ruse set 
up by Hashem in order to allow us to have bechirah chofshit as to whether 
Hashem exists.  Hashem therefore runs the world in a "constant" way which 
we call nature.  But Hashem does not do so for tzaddikim, so long as others 
do not notice.  Hence the story of R. Chaninah ben Dosa and the vinegar 
burning.  Hence the gemara that bracha is found only b'davar ha'samui min 
ha'ayin.  As a result, R. Dessler recommends that everyone make the 
effort--if they are on the proper level--to have complete bitachon and do 
no hishtadlut at all.  Those who are not on that level should do minimal 
hishtadlut and realize that the hishtadlut is not what *causes* success but 
is merely a "cover" for Hashem to cause the success directly.  (See Kuntrus 
hab'chirah in the first chelek of Michtav Me'eliyahu.)

R. Bloch had a more positive view of nature.  Hashem has decided to 
constrain Himself and run the world according to natural law.  Therefore, 
hishtadlut actually accomplishes the result, since Hashem has decided to 
run the world that way.  Of course, since it is Hashem who is actually 
causing the result, nothing happens from hishtadlut if the person does not 
merit the result.

It would seem that R. Avigdor Miller is following R. Dessler on this issue. 
 OTOH, those who seek the "best" doctor are probably (deep down) following 
R. Bloch--they believe that the *quality* of their hishtadlut does make a 

I believe that there have been articles analyzing this issue from the 
perspective of the Rishonim.  Can anyone recommend some?

Kol tuv,

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 12:01:51 -0400
From: "MARK FELDMAN" <mfeldman@CM-P.COM>
Re: shiurim

Micha Berger wrote:
Eli Turkl (missing "e" intentional <grin>) writes:
: In my neighborhood we have several such shiurim but they are all
: "narrow" based. i.e. a shiur on the though of Rav Kook, or on Rav
: Soloveitchik, or on Tanya etc.

: The hard part os finding someone capable of combining these together.

Why combine them in one person? I just want them in one venue.

I find that there is benefit in both types of shiurim:
1.  I have attended shiurim in, e.g., "Orot" by Rav Kook.  The value of 
such shiurim is that they try to integrate the various themes in a way that 
the non-expert could not hope to accomplish (especially in the case of Rav 
Kook, whose language is so difficult).   This is especially the case in 
studying a perush that was not written systematically (based on particular 
topics) but pasuk by pasuk.  For example, I attended a shiur on Ramban al 
haTorah which was valuable primarily because the maggid shiur brought in 
other Rambans from the rest of the Torah.

2.  Shiurim that compare and contrast various thinkers often will plumb an 
issue to even greater depths.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Thu, 08 Jul 1999 01:18:33 +0000
From: Mindy Scheer <MScheer@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
Re: Jewish Books in English

Thanks for taking the time to list all those resources. There were a few that
I did not know about!

May God Bless You Always For Your Kindness and Your Help!


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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 13:13:03 -0400 (EDT)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@icase.edu>
Darius & Persian kings

Given the recent daf yomi I would like to make some observations about
dating and other points. I am avoiding for now the old debate of
Greek vs Chazal dating and not only use the accpted Jewish chronology.

As far as I know the usual dating for the Persian era is:
Darian the Mede + Cyrus   4 years
Achashrevush (xerxes)     14 years
Darius                    34 years
total                     52 years

1. Achashrevush made his party in the third year of his reign.
   The ladies were soaked in oils for 1 year. Hence, the earliest Esther
   could have become queen was the 4th year. The story of Purim itself
   took one year. Hence, the earliest that Esther could have given birth
   was the 5th (probably 6th) year of the reign. Since Achashrevush's reign
   was 14 years therefore, their son son Darius was about 8 or 9 years old
   when he became king.
   Darius ordered the continuation of the building of the Temple in his second
   year. Hence, he was under 10 years old at the time, clearly a minor.
   I am not sure how the Persian government was set up but I would guess
   that such a minor had a regent (Moredcai?) who made decisions.
   As such how can the gemara claim he was righteous based on a decision
   made when he was under bar mitzvah?

2. The gemara claims that later he lost his level of righteousness.
   According to one answer he built the Temple for his own honor and
   so that G-d would help him and his children. Tosafot asks that such
   deeds are still considered righteous. Tosafot answers that this applies
   only to Jews not gentiles.
   But Darius was indeed Jewish !!! (the son of Queen Esther).

3. I am also bothered philosophically by the idea that a nonJew is not
   considered righteous unless his motives are purely for the worship of
   G-d. With that logic Truman was not being good when the US voted for
   Israel if he had any motives that it was good for the US
   (Conservative logic dictates that on the contrary if it was not in
   the interest of the US Truman should not have made such a decision).
   Similar remarks for gentiles that saved jews in the holocaust. If their
   motive was to gain G-d's protection then they are not really righteous.

4. The gemara says that gittin were dated according to the king as a mark
   of honor to the king. Furthermore, all contracts had some date to
   prevent cheating. A uniform dating system was used in case the court
   did not remember when the king was annointed.

   However, with darius the dating began with Nissan and sometime later
   (Tosafot says it took a while to realize darius was no longer righteous)
   this was changed to Tishrei. Such a public change would be a major
   slap in the face to the king especially to one who contributed from
   the royal treasury to the building of the Temple. Furthermore, such
   a change would certainly confuse the courts.

   When chazal changed the dating of the years of Darius, I assume it
   was done by Ezra who was the gadol hador. How could Ezra come to
   the king with requests after making such a decision?

5. Nehemiah came to darius in the 33rd year of his reign to request
   permission to return to Jerusalem. Since, Darius's reign was only
   34 years this request happened only 1 year before darius was killed
   by Alexander the Great.
   According to Greek historians, however, the middle east was captured
   by Alexander several years before the final battle where Darius lost.
   Thus, the year before the end of darius's reign Jerusalem was already
   in Greek hands!

   It is probably at this time that Shimon haTzaddik went out to greet
   Alexander the Great. Hence, "most probably" Nehemia and Shimon
   HaTzaddik were in Jerusalem at the same time (may be also Ezra?)

6. Are there any midrashim about Esther and Mordecai after the story
   of Purim besides the fact that Esther gave birth to Darius?
   Obviously even though Mordecai became prime minister he was not able
   to convince  Achashrevush to rebuild the temple. What happened to
   them when Darius became king?

Long enough for one post. Kol Tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 13:44:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Hirsch -- Myth and Fact (a bit long, sorry!)

As we have all seen with respect to R. Soloveitchik, the rotors of
revisionism now spin at a blinding rate.  This is certainly true with
respect to R. Hirsch as well.  It is ironic that an article entitled
"RSR Hirsch -- Myth and Fact," which nominally decries revisionism,
engages in it far more than those tarred as revisionists by the article.

R. M. Poppers writes:

>I appreciate your three-sentence review for its
>sharp rhetoric but (a) having read some of Rav Hirsch's works (in
>translation...and, even if I was comfortable reading German, I might have a
>hard time with his florid style :-), I humbly agree with those aspects of
>the article which relate to what I've read (not that Professor Levi needs
>any approbation); and (b) having read the article, I find your description
>of his words, to say the least, off the mark.

I had, in fact, hoped to avoid a full-blown critique of Prof. Levi's
article, but I see now that I must fortify my earlier statements.
Before turning to R. Hirsch, a few words of introduction are in order.
Prof. Levi is a scientist and a talmid hakham; he is not a historian nor
a philosopher (neither am I; but I am also not publishing putatively
scholarly articles that attack historians' and philosophers' views of
Hirsch).  In a book entitled Sha'arei Talmud Torah, Prof. Levi espouses
the position that the natural sciences may be studied but the humanities
may not; he is also personally pro-Medinat Yisrael.  Not coincidentally,
he describes R. Hirsch as favoring sciences, but not the humanities, and
claims R. Hirsch was a nationalist and speculates that R. Hirsch would
support the medinah today.  The reasons for my own skepticism regarding
these points will be presented below.

>Re Zionism, Professor Levi cites many sources (which I can quote if anyone
>is interested) in support of stating that
 >- -- Rav Hirsch (hereafter SRH) viewed Judaism not as a "religion" but
as the
>Jewish *nation*'s way of life; that
 >- -- in SRH's view, a full Jewish life can only be accomplished in
>Yisroel*; and that
 >- -- SRH raised money on behalf of the development of self-supporting
>agricultural settlements in E'Y and, in 1883, appealed for support of the
>Petach Tikva community.  He notes that SRH cites the "three oaths" of BT
>K'subos and, like other Halachic authorities, considered them binding, [snip]

You have nicely summarized Prof. Levi's points.  But these do not prove
that he is correct, only that the evidence he cites supports his thesis.
 It would be odd if it were otherwise.  The issue, however, is more
complex.   A substantial number of writers have characterized Hirsch as
minimizing Jewish nationalism, and Prof. Levi is taking issue with them.
 Note that most of the sources that Prof. Levi cites are unexceptional
statements regarding the spiritual value of Eretz Yisrael, some in the
context of the ultimate ge'ulah.  But in any case this theme clearly
does not occupy a central place in R. Hirsch's thought.  Nor does one
find anything in his writing to compare to that of, say, Ramban,
regarding the centrality of Eretz Yisrael. 

More importantly, Prof. Levi makes passing reference to, but does not
quote, some statements of Hirsch that seem to contradict his thesis.
For example, in R. Hirsch's Neunzehn Briefe (Nineteen Letters), he
writes (based on a pasuk in Yirmiyahu):

[I]t is our duty to join ourselves as closely as possible to the state
which receives us into our midst, to promote its welfare and not to
consider our well-being as in any way separate from that of the state to
which we belong.  This close connection with states everywhere is not at
all in contradiction to the spirit of Judaism, for the independent
national life of Israel was never the essence or purpose of our
existence as a nation, but only a means of fulfilling our spiritual
mission.  Land and soil was never Israel's bond of union.  That function
was always fulfilled solely by the common task set by the Torah. . . .
This spiritual unity is the only communal bond we possess, or ever
expect to possess, until that great day shall arrive [of messianic
redemption]. . . .  For this future . . . we hope and pray, but to
actively accelerate its coming is prohibited to us (Letter Sixteen,
Drachman tr. ,107-08).

In practice, then, R. Hirsch ascribes no religious or nationalistic
value to settling Eretz Yisrael except in the context of the ge'ulah; to
the contrary, any attempt to settle beforehand is prohibited.  Moreover,
he seems to be saying that we Diaspora Jews should unreservedly and
wholeheartedly identify with whatever country we happen to inhabit.  (R.
 Hirsch certainly felt that way about Germany, though I imagine it was a
bit harder for Jews in Tsarist Russia to cultivate patriotism.)

In effect, then, R. Hirsch defers any kind of nationalistic vision to
the Messianic Age.  This is very much in accord with the statements on
R. Hirsch of the scholars whom Prof. Levi criticizes.

Ingeniously, Prof. Levi argues that R. Hirsch emphasized a Jew's
national obligations, but applied these to the community because "[i]n
the political constellation in which R. Hirsch functioned, there was no
general national framework."  But this is simply an agile way of
admitting that R. Hirsch, rather than calling for a change in the
"political constellation," as R. Kalischer did, willingly accepted a
geographically scattered Jewish nation and never aspired to a
pre-messianic unification of the Jewish nation.  I do not understand how
Prof. Levi can term this approach that of a "nationalist."

Regarding Prof. Levi's "speculation" about R. Hirsch's views on Medinat
Yisrael, there is little to be said.  While perhaps appropiate for a
Shabbat table discussion, it has no place in an article in a scholarly
journal.  Prof. Levi's discussion of twentieth century Gedolim leaves
the erroneous impression that there is "near-universal acceptance among
the greatest Torah authorities" to favor "aliyah and any effort to
improve the State of Israel, materially and spiritually."  Halevai!

Prof. Levi claims that R. Hirsch did not encourage the study of
humanities.  As evidence he cites the fact that the curriculum of R.
Hirsch's school included language, but not literature.  But one may not
wish to derive R. Hirsch's philosophical positions from that curriculum:
the hours dedicated to general studies outnumbered those dedicated to
Jewish studies!

Prof. Levi concedes that R. Hirsch praises non-Jewish literature in one
well-known essay, but claims that Hirsch's phrase "realm of knowledge"
refers to science and history rather than the humanities.   The
interpretation is debatable.  He also argues that R. Hirsch's speech on
the centenary of Schiller's birth was a singular occasion, compelled by
the "dictates of good manners."  To my knowledge, there is no evidence
for this contention and no serious historian has suggested it.
Moreover, the speech was delivered, not in some public forum to which R.
Hirsch had been invited, but in his own school to the students.  In the
speech, R. Hirsch bestows on Schiller the berakhah "she-natan hakhmato
le-basar va-dam."  The speech reflects R. Hirsch's knowledge of and
reverence for Schiller's poetry, and seems aimed at inspiring the same
in the young audience.  It was also subsequently published for a broader
audience.  This would seem to contradict Prof. Levi's contention that R.
Hirsch did not encourage study of the humanities.

Moreover, R. Hirsch repeatedly wrote in glowing terms of the beauty of
Greek (i.e., Western) culture.  In a Hanukkah essay ("Hellenism and
Judaism"), R. Hirsch wrote of the civilizing effect of the "Hellenic
spirit" which provides humanity with "symmetry of harmony and beauty"
and "teaches man self-respect, self-confidence and autonomy."  In his
Perush to Bereshit 9:27, R. Hirsch speaks of the "spiritual treasures"
of the Greeks which have "ennobled the world esthetically."

I find it difficult to interpret all of these references to beauty and
esthetics to science and history, as opposed to the humanities.  The
Greek lessons on self-respect, self-confidence and autonomy presumably
are found in works of philosophy, not mathematics.

In addition, R. Hirsch's praise for Hellenism acknowledges that its
contribution is independent of the Jewish contribution to humanity, i.e.
Torah. I think it clear that R. Hirsch saw them as fully compatible,
But it would also seem that these passages support those who -- in Prof.
Levi's words -- "accuse" R. Hirsch of "adoring Western European culture
.. . . without citing any reasonable support for their claims."

Sadly, there is more to say, but in the interests of leaving some
bandwidth to others and going back to earning a livelihood, I will end
with my usual prayer,

She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

Eli Clark

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