Avodah Mailing List

Volume 06 : Number 108

Monday, January 22 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 19:49:51 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Tzelem Elokim

On Fri, Jan 19, 2001 at 01:36:02PM -0600, RYGB wrote:
:                                             Bechira is an act of will, and
: goyim have will.

Bechirah chafshi requires *free* will. Taking a parallel between the Rambam
and the Or Samei'ach on bechirah and mal'achim, I could see two possibilities.
Perhaps they have will, but it's deterministic and causal. Or perhaps
because their connection to HKBH is weaker, they don't have an even balance
between sides.

My problem is that they too descend from the couple who ate from the eitz
hada'as tov vara.


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 20:34:52 +0200
From: janet rosenbaum <jerosenb@hcs.harvard.edu>
Re: Teaching Torah to Gentiles in an Academic Setting

From: "Stein, Aryeh E." <aes@ll-f.com>
>  I haven't seen the SE's teshuva, but, AIUI, it is permissible to teach Torah
>  sh'ba'alpeh to gentiles if the gentile is merely part of a larger group (of
>  Jews).  IOW, the isur only applies to one-on-one instruction.  I would think
>  that this heter would solve most of the problems of teaching torah to
>  gentiles in academic settings.

There are a lot of such heters beyond the SE and what you mention --
R Feinstein's that one may allow gentiles to listen in if they're
descendants of Reform converts (though this was apparently unique to
an Indianapolis school which depended on these students for donations),
that to a potential convert one may still teach Torah -- and there are
still a number of rabbis still do not accept them. Even in the case of the
descendant of a Conservative convert (which some treat more leniently)
intending to convert, one rabbi wouldn't allow them to attend even a
practical halacha overview class; another allowed them to go to shiur,
but not ask questions, based on the SE; and a third normally wouldn't,
but got a heter for the particular case.

Wrt the internet/torah-forum, I don't see why this case is different
from others -- gentiles are a minority, even though a larger minority --
but one can't count on there being no gentiles on any mailing list.


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Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 22:52:21 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@bezeqint.net>
Teaching Torah to non-Jews

Rabbi Bleich - Contemporary Halachic Problems II chapter 16 pp 311-340
has a very good discussion of the issue - especially the issue of giving
Torah classes on the radio.

Igros Moshe has a number of tshuvos see Yad Moshe page 377 under the
category of Talmud Torah - in particular E.H. IV # page 54 concerning
teaching in a Jewish school where many of the students are not Jews and
Y.D. IV #38.10 page 255 concerning translating seforim and Y.D. III #90
page 332 concerning teaching Torah to a group of Jews when a non-Jew
is present.

Also of relevance is the extensive discussion in Rav Dovid Yosef's
edition of the Rambam's tshuvos #50.

Of interest -- especially since it seems not to be cited by anyone --
is the Chasam Sofer to Chullin 33. He also does not cite the Rambam's
tshuva. The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 10:10) states that if a ben noach
wants to perform one of the 613 mitzvos to get reward -- we don't stop
him from doing it correctly. However, the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 10:9)
states that if a non Jew wants to keep Shabbos, learn Torah or create
a religious obligation for himself -- he deserves being punished from
Heaven. The Chasam Sofer (Chullin 33) explains the apparent contradiction
by saying that the Rambam holds there are two types of non Jews. A Ben
Noach is one who has accepted not to worship idols while an Akum has
not. The Ben Noach is allowed to keep Shabbos, study Torah and do the
other mitzvos. He also notes that whether it is permitted for a nonJew
to learn Torah is apparently a dispute in the gemora itself [Chagiga 13a,
Sanhedrin 59a, Avoda Zara 59a and Nedarim 31a] and that the Rambam rules
according to the lenient opinion stated in Nedarim 31a since this section
of Shas was composed more recently than the rest of Shas.

In sum - there are definitely hetairim for a wide range of Torah
activities directed at Jews even though non-Jews might also learn as
well as teaching non-Jews directly in certain limited circumstances.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 13:56:10
From: "" <sethm37@hotmail.com>
Re: davening at Har HaBayis

Shoshana Boublil wrote:
> First the answer is yes. Unfortunately, they would take a few Avodah
> posts to cover so I'm limiting them to one of the post Churban Bayit
> sources (of which there are quite a few as well) -- the Rambam.

My dear Mrs. Boublil, I want to state form the outset that my critiques
that follow are not meant at you personally. I believe that you took
the sources from the siddur haMiqdash that you quote and from the
Temple Institute you quoted in earlier posts about the importance
of the Beis HaMiqdash. But the web site (and possibly the siddur) are
using half-statements and quotations taken out of context to argue their
point. A careful reading of most of the sources does not prove the point
under discussion.

> Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot, Aseh 6: "Mitzvat Tefilla BeHar HaBayit".

That is not what the Rambam says. Aseh 6 is about bringing oneself close
to talmidei hakhomim. You probably mean 5, and there is says (and I will
quote from the Arabic): "[Hazal] say serve Him through His Torah, serve
him through his Miqdash, i.e. the objective (purpose? Direction?) should
be to pray in it or towards it as Shlomo explains." The Rambam doesn't
just throw words in that mean nothing: "as Shlomo explains" means just
that. The Rambam must be referring to Kings I 8:33, where Shlomo says
(using the Stone TeNaKh's translation) "If Your people are defeated by
an enemy, because they sinned against You,, and then they return to You
and praise Your Name and pray and supplicate You in this Temple, may
You hear..." First of all, this clearly does not refer to the mitzva
of tefilla every day, but only to the specific mitzva of praying and
fasting b'et tzara. Secondly, the whole pasuq is a conditional phrase:
when or if this happens, may You forgive them. It is not a statement
"thou shalt go to the Miqdash and pray there." The context proves that
Shlomo is not referring to such a mitzva: just read the whole chapter
or the surrounding verses.

And, of course, the real bottom line: Sefer HaMitzvos, as all know,
as the Rambam states himself, was composed by the Rambam as a sort of
index/introduction to the Mishneh Torah, to enumerate all 613 mitzvos and
show where he will deal with them in the text itself. He specifically says
that Aseh 5 will be dealt with in Sefer Ahava, Hilkhos Tefilla. There
the Rambam defines lahalokho what the mitzva is. Read it carefully,
1:1 -- 1:3. What he mentions is that "v'hakkol hayu mitpall'lim nohakh
HaMiqdash b'khol maqom sheyihye," implying that it is somehow part of
the mitzva d'Orayso (another problem for the limmud z'khus of the Mogen
Avrohom about women davening). How is that to be done? See 5:2: "if he
were standing in hutz laaretz... if he were standing in Haaretz... if he
were standing in the Miqdash, he faces Qodesh HaQodoshim." If, if, if:
no mitzva in any of them. And ultimately, as I said in my first post,
you face the Qodesh HaQodoshim, where NO ONE ever davens.

> Rambam, Hilchot Beit HaBechirah, 7; 1, 2, 7 "Mitzvat Mora Mikdash".

Yes indeed, the Rambam states quite strongly that Mora Miqdash applies

But nowhere in that chapter, including in the quoted halokhos, does
he say that it includes the mitzva of tefilla. The avodah mentioned in
that chapter is the avodah in the Miqdash, i.e. the qorbonos. He says
"v'lo yikkanes lo ela lidvar mitzva," and I will not argue that that may
include davening. But I NEVER claimed it was asur to daven in the Miqdash,
adrabba I explicity referred to davening in the Miqdash for the people who
were there already in my first post. What I asked and I will ask again:
where is the source about the importance of davening our daily tefillos
in the Miqdash, in the Har Habayis, or in front of the Kosel.

> For another source see a letter written by the Rambam (confirmed as
> such by the Tzitz Eliezer), it can be found in Igrot HaRambam part I by
> Rav Yitzchak Shilat, page 225. In this letter he describes his Aliyah
> to Har HaBayit in detail and the feelings and mizvot he performed in
> this instance.

1) The Tzitz Eliezer was entitled to believe this letter was from the
Rambam, but it is only one of many letters and works that were attributed
to the Rambam with no evidence that the letter or book was actually
by him. (some of these are still being published: a friend bought me a
few years ago a book published in Yerushalayim a few years ago proudly
entitled "Perush HaRambam" on megillas Esther. This is definitely not
from the Rambam; R. Y. Dubitsky can enlighten us on when the attribution
was first made and by whom.)

2) see below.

> In a later letter written many years later from Egypt to Rabbi Yefet
> the Dayan, page 224, he again describes both his feelings and the kiyum
> of the mitzvot involved in going to Har HaBayit to pray.

I said in my post that the emotive side I understand perfectly. When
I see Har HaBayis I have strong feelings, too (and I tear q'ri'o to
express them).

Let me say it again: I absolutely believe that the place of the Miqdash
(including Har HaBayis, including the Kosel) inspire in people strong
feelings, and it is absolutely appropriate to express those feelings
as a baqosho to HQB'H to rebuilt the Temple speedily. I was asking,
however, about any source for a connection between the mitzva of tefilla
and doing in the the place of the Miqdash. I was taught that the mitzva
is to daven in the place most appropriate for kavvono, and kavvono for
tefilla, not strong emotion about seeing the place of the Miqdash. I am
willing to admit that for some people the Kosel might be a place that
enhances their kavvono for tefilla, but I davened there many times,
and I found it distracting.

Personal reactions, which differ, do not make something a mitzva for all.

> In other sources it appears that both for times of trouble and times
> of joy there are specific times when it is Davka a mitzva to go to Har
> HaBayit and pray there.

I await to hear them. Please check them. This first bunch was not too

> Other sources are collected in the Siddur HaMikdash, vol. II, published
> by Rav Yisrael Ariel and the Temple Institute.

As I said, the Temple Institute has an agenda, which it pursues
vigorously. It does not present an objective reading of the sources.

WADR, the arguments I have seen about this remind me of what a friend of
mine was taught in a yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael: that from Rashi we see that
all the mitzvos are really only hal in Eretz Yisrael, and the purpose of
doing them in Hutz Laaretz is just a sort of hinnukh, to get us used to
doing them when we finally go there. My friend actually believed that
for a few years. (Question: does this cause a problem counting such a
person for a minyan according to the Rambam, since he believes that the
Mitzvos are not applicable bizman hazeh?)

And I say again: for SOME people, davening at the Kosel may be
appropriate. But that is not because of any mitzva specific to there,
but because it enhances their kavvono.

And I also wish to state that my purpose here is not to convince people
that my position is correct. I welcome being proven wrong, but up to now I
have never seen any proof, and I have been looking for a long time. Many
people will continue to believe in the importance of davening at the
Kosel. Many people also believe fervently in the efficacy of certain
red strings which have been brought to Kever Rohel (and our own R. Harry
has a real deal for them, as he so generously offered earlier <g>).

With sincerity and a desire to understand the truth,
Seth Mandel

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 14:29:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Kenneth Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
RE: Parasha question

R' Gershon Dubin asks
> On the "Morsel of Hebrew Grammar" parasha sheet, he asks why, if Bemidbar
> becomes sefer Bamidbar, doesn't shemos become sheimos?

First we must ask why and how b'midbar became bAmidbar to begin with. Then
we can ask whether that logic applies to Sh'mos.

I'm all ears.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 13:20:06 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Teaching Torah to Gentiles in an Academic Setting

At 01:07 PM 1/17/01 -0500, Gil.Student@citicorp.com wrote:
>Are there any sources to be meikel in teaching Torah (shebe'al peh)
>to gentiles other than those mentioned in the Seridei Eish's teshuvah?

There is a teshuva, published in an obscure Torah journal, from R' Avrohom 
Yitzchok Bloch to my grandfather, R' Dov Yehuda Schochet, on this very 
topic, written, I assume, when my grandfather queried about what he might 
teach non-Jews in a university in Basel. I can photocopy it and send it by 
fax to those interested. It is quite extensive.

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 13:28:28 -0600
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Heicha Kedusha

Did someone mention that the AH holds in Heicha Kedusha you say Atah 
Kadosh, not L'Dor va'Dor?

ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 19:56:36 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Parasha question

On Fri, Jan 19, 2001 at 02:29:51PM -0500, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: First we must ask why and how b'midbar became bAmidbar to begin with. Then
: we can ask whether that logic applies to Sh'mos.

Bemidbar and Shemos are both semichut forms, meaning "in [the] desert of
..." and "names of ...". Semichut can only make sense with a following
word for them to be connected to.

Bemidbar Sinai became Bamidbar, but Sh'mos B'nei Yisrael didn't become


Micha Berger                 When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org            you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org       You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287                  - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 22:57:33 -0500 (EST)
From: jjbaker@panix.com
Fluorescent lights

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> Even if it needn't be as hot as 678deg to boil the mercury, the mercury isn't
> boiling because of temperatures below 160.

I have another question.  Where does this idea of Micha's about cooking
metal come from?  IIRC, the Rambam/Raavad speak of cooking metal davka
when it has been heated to glowing.  They don't mention yad soledes bo
as a criterion for cooking *metal*.  I thought we regarded metals, 
minerals, etc. as not being cookable anyway?

Now, if the filament actually glows in heating the mercury, then
we have a real problem.  But without that, I don't see where the
mercury at yad soledes bo is a problem.

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