Avodah Mailing List
Volume 06 : Number 131
Tuesday, February 20 2001
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 12:48:32 +0100
From: Eli Turkel <Eli.Turkel@kvab.be>
Subject: new environments
> Can anyone offer more concrete examples of this phenomenon? It sure seems
> to me that as our affluence increases, we are more and more willing to
> take things which had been acceptable, and strive for higher standards.
> Remember when all canned vegetables were kosher? And all "pure vegetable
> oil"s? Well, were they or weren't they?
One obvious places where "bidieved" has changed is netillat yadaim.
Since we no longer worry about the maid shlepping the water up the hill
one generally is machmir in the amount of water used.
On the other hand one argument I have had with several people is the use
of one oven for milchig/fleigshig. Since in the past this was always
necessary I dont see any problem with it. Others claim that in our
modern day it is not a problem (depending on location) to have 2 stoves,
2 sinks and a separate kitchen for pesach.
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 18:56:02 EST
Subject: Fwd: RAV -09: Catharsis of the Emotions
another excerpt of this series.
YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAV SOLOVEITCHIK
by Rav Ronnie Ziegler
LECTURE #9: Catharsis of the Emotions
After discussing the need for and method of purification of the physical
realm of man's existence, the Rav moves next in his essay "Catharsis"
to consider the purification of the emotional realm. While catharsis
of the former requires that man refrain from certain acts, catharsis of
the latter demands that he change his innermost feelings. As the Gemara
tells us (Sanhedrin 106b), "God wants the heart."
"[T]he Halakha thinks there is an ethic, not only of action, but of
feeling, as well. Man is master over his own emotional world, capable
of disowning feelings or emotions, however compulsive or powerful,
if they seem to be disruptive; and, conversely, of assimilating
redemptive emotion into his personality." (p. 47)
In other words, because our feelings are such an important part of us,
and because they affect us so deeply, it is crucial that we exert control
over them, that we shape and direct them in a positive fashion, and that
we integrate them into our service of God. In fact, as we shall see in
this lecture and the next, the Rav believes that a person's main arena
of religious struggle lies precisely within the internal-emotional realm.
Although the assumption that one can be master over his emotional
world may seem foreign to modern man, it lies at the basis of
many halakhot. While many mitzvot regulate man's actions, e.g. the
commandment to eat matza or the prohibition of theft, some mitzvot
seem to address themselves directly to man's emotions, e.g. "You
shall love the Lord your God" (Devarim 6:5), "You shall not hate your
brother in your heart" (Vayikra 19:17), and "You shall not desire your
neighbor's house..." (Devarim 5:18 - see "For Further Reference," #1).
This corresponds to the famous distinction first posited by Rabbenu
Bachya ben Yosef ibn Pakuda between chovot ha-evarim and chovot ha-
levavot, duties of the limbs and duties of the heart.
The obvious question presents itself: how can a person be expected to
control his feelings? Can he help it, for example, if he is jealous
of someone richer than he is? Strikingly, few of our sages actually
ask this question. They seem to take it for granted that since one's
emotions are a matter of halakhic concern, it is clear that one can and
should exert control over them.
One of the few Rishonim to deal with the question, the 12th-century
Bible commentator Rav Avraham ibn Ezra, suggests that one can control
his emotions through an intellectual effort, i.e. through internalizing
the laws of Halakha.
"I will offer you a parable. Know that a peasant of sound mind who
beholds a beautiful princess will not desire in his heart to lie with
her, for this cannot be. [Recall that he is writing in the context of
a feudal society.] ... Similarly, a wise person knows that all wealth
... comes from God; therefore, he will not desire that which God has
not given him. Additionally, since he knows that it is God who has
forbidden his neighbor's wife to him, she will be even more exalted in
his eyes than the princess in the eyes of the peasant." (Shemot 20:13)
The unstated opinion of most Rishonim, however, is presented forcefully
by the anonymous 13th-century classic, Sefer Ha-chinnukh:
"Do not wonder and ask: But how can it be in one's power to restrain
his heart from longing for riches that he may see in his fellow
man's possession, when he himself is lacking them all? How can a
prohibition be given in the Torah about something which man cannot
"This matter is not so; none but wicked fools... would speak so. For
it is indeed in one's power to restrain himself, his thoughts and his
longings, from whatever he wishes. It lies within his free choice and
his decision to repel his desire or draw it near, with regard to all
matters, as he wishes; and his heart is given over into his control;
however he pleases, he may turn it... There is nothing so good for a
man as a good, pure thought, since that is the beginning of all good
deeds and their end. And this, as it seems, is the significance of
the 'good heart' which the Sages praise in Avot (2:9)." (Mitzva 416;
424 in R. Chavel's edition)
As opposed to ibn Ezra's theory of intellectual persuasion, the Chinukh
seems to think that controlling emotion is simply a matter of sheer
willpower and force of habit.
ACTION AND FULFILLMENT
Aside from the "duties of the limbs" and the "duties of the heart," there
is a third hybrid category of mitzvot. The Rav was the first to define
this category in strict halakhic terms, and he devoted much attention
to it. In this category, although the Halakha demands the performance
of a certain external action, the mitzva is actually fulfilled through
an internal experience. In "lomdish" parlance, the Rav termed this the
duality of ma'aseh and kiyyum (act and fulfillment).
Often, ma'aseh and kiyyum go together: for example, one fulfills the
mitzva of eating matza simply by ingesting it, regardless of his inner
awareness of the liberation from Egypt. However, the Rav focuses our
attention on cases where the act and the fulfillment exist on two
different planes (both, however, are necessary for proper fulfillment
of the mitzva). For example, the mitzva of prayer consists of reciting
certain words (ma'aseh), but its essence (kiyyum) is "the service of
the heart," the experience of standing before God and the feelings of
gratitude and dependence. Similarly, the Torah tells us to recite the
words of Keriat Shema twice daily, but the mitzva's true fulfillment
consists in the accompanying kabbalat ol malkhut Shamayim (acceptance of
the yoke of God's kingship). It is interesting that, in "Catharsis," the
Rav draws his examples of purging the emotional realm from this category
of mitzvot. [We shall return to this important group of commandments in
next week's lecture.]
MOURNING AND JOY
The Rav's first illustration of emotional catharsis is God's command
to Aharon not to mourn the deaths of his two sons. On the day on which
the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was to have been dedicated, the greatest day
of Aharon's life, his sons Nadav and Avihu were suddenly struck down
by a divine fire. Since Aharon, the High Priest, was wholly consecrated
to divine service, he had to continue fulfilling his duties despite his
personal tragedy. Aharon was not permitted the basic human right to mourn;
he had to deny one of man's most powerful emotions, the love for a child.
[Note that while Aharon's sense of mission as a representative of the
people overcame his personal sorrow, the People of Israel performed
the opposite gesture. They overcame their feelings of communal joy
at the dedication of the Mishkan and mourned for the tragedy of the
individual. "And Moshe spoke to Aharon and to his sons Elazar and Itamar,
saying: 'Do not bare your heads and do not rend your clothes ... But
your kinsmen, the entire House of Israel, shall bewail the burning
that the Lord has wrought'" (Vayikra 10:6; see Ramban and Chizkuni
ad loc.). In other words, the individual must sometimes overcome his
personal interests and instead dedicate himself to the community, while
the community must feel the pain of each individual. The Rav, however,
focuses here on dedication to God, not to the community.]
Of course, God does not demand total commitment only from the high
priest, but from the entire "nation of priests" (i.e. the Jewish
People) as well. As an example, the Rav cites a common situation which
is actually very similar to the predicament Aharon found himself in.
When major holidays fall during one's "shiva" mourning period, they
cancel the mourning. This does not entail merely a change of clothes or
other superficial differences; it somehow demands of the mourner that he
forsake grief in favor of joy. Neither the halakhic laws of mourning nor
the command to "rejoice in your festivals ... and you shall have nothing
but joy" (Devarim 16:14-15) refer to external actions. As the Rav puts it:
"[Mourning] is an inner experience of black despair, of complete
existential failure, of the absurdity of being... Similarly, the
precept of rejoicing on a holiday ... [refers] to an all-penetrating
depth- experience of spiritual joy, serenity and peace of mind
deriving from faith and the awareness of God's presence." (pp. 48-49)
[I highly recommend that you see the rest of the passage where the Rav
so beautifully describes these experiences. It is clear that one cannot
write like this unless he has experienced these feelings himself.]
If mourning (avelut) and holiday rejoicing (simchat yom tov) were merely
external observances, or if one were internal and one external, then
perhaps we could have found some way for them to coexist. But since
they are both primarily internal fulfillments, one must prevail over
the other since they are mutually contradictory experiences.
In his halakhic discourses, the Rav develops at length this theory of the
internal kiyyum of both avelut and simchat yom tov. These are contrasted
to the rabbinic mitzva of honoring and enjoying Shabbat (kibbud ve-oneg),
whose content is exhausted by external actions. Because the mitzva of
kibbud ve-oneg does not mandate an internal kiyyum, Shabbat does not
cancel avelut. Rather, on Shabbat one does not manifest his mourning
publicly but nevertheless continues certain practices of mourning in
private. [See "For Further Reference," #3.]
DISCIPLINE AND FEELING
Rav Soloveitchik is aware that catharsis of the emotions is very
demanding, and he does not hide this fact. Facing the situation
realistically, he displays uncharacteristic hesitance and diffidence in
assessing the capacity of modern man to attain emotional catharsis:
"Is it possible? As far as modern man is concerned I would dare not
answer. But with respect to Biblical man we read that Aaron acted
in accord with the divine instruction." (p. 48)
"Can one replace the experience of monstrosity (avelut) with the
feeling of highest meaningfulness (simchat yom tov)? I have no
right to judge. However, I know of people who attempted to perform
this greatest of all miracles." (p. 49)
[Among the latter, the Rav may have had in mind his grandfather, Rav
Eliyahu Feinstein of Pruzhan. Rav Soloveitchik writes in "Halakhic Man"
of his grandfather's presence of mind when, while his beloved daughter
was about to die, he remembered to lay tefillin of Rabbenu Tam prior to
becoming an onen (one whose relative has died but not yet been buried,
who is exempt from performing mitzvot). We will return to discuss this
incident when we study "Halakhic Man."]
In this realm, the Halakha seems more intrusive than in any other. What
are more intimate and personal than one's feelings? Rav Soloveitchik
himself admits that "The Halakha, which at times can be very tender,
understanding and accommodating, may, on other occasions, act like a
disciplinarian demanding obedience" (p. 49).
But it is important to remember that the Halakha is not demanding that
we quash all feeling. It wants us to feel, to experience the gamut of
human emotions, the joys and sorrows of life. The Ramban states this
strongly in the introduction to his masterpiece on avelut, Torat Ha-
adam, where he polemicizes against those who adopt a stance of philosophic
apathy towards the world. But, while we feel deeply, our emotions must be
shaped and guided by the law and must remain within our control. The Torah
wants to purify our emotions and to redeem us by means of our emotions.
Next week's lecture will broaden our inquiry, examining the necessity
of inwardness in all areas of religious life.
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:
1. Desire and Coveting: Note that I quoted the verse "You shall not
desire" (lo titaveh), and not the verse "You shall not covet" (lo tachmod
- Shemot 20:14 and Devarim 5:18), as an example of a mitzva pertaining
SOLELY to the emotions. Many Rishonim interpret the latter prohibition
as entailing some sort of action, while the former is only a feeling
(e.g. Rambam, Hilkhot Gezela 1:9- 12).
2. How can the Torah command emotions? See the interesting comments
regarding "You shall not covet" by the Rav's great-grandfather, the Beit
Ha-levi, in his Torah commentary to Shemot 20:14.
3. Mitzvot which require action but whose fulfillment is experiential -
halakhic and philosophic underpinnings:
A. Avelut: see esp. Shiurim Le-zekher Abba Mari z"l, vol. 2, pp.
182-196. Also: "Peleitat Sofreihem," in Divrei Hagut Ve-ha'arakha,
pp. 137-140; "A Eulogy for the Talner Rebbe," in Shiurei Harav,
pp. 66-73; Shiurim Le- zekher Abba Mari z"l, vol. 1, pp. 40-49
B. Simchat Yom Tov: ibid., pp. 188ff.; vol. 1, pp. 64- 68; U-vikkashtem
Mi-sham, footnote 19 (pp. 209-212).
C. Kibbud ve-oneg Shabbat: Shiurim Le-zekher Abba Mari z"l, vol. 1,
D. Keriat Shema: ibid., vol. 1, pp. 24-33.
E. Fasts: ibid., vol. 1, 69-90; "Al Ha-tzar Ha-tzorer Etkhem" and
"Ha-evkeh Be-chodesh Ha-chamishi?" adapted by Rav Yair Kahn from a
lecture by the Rav, Alon Shevut Bogrim, 9 (Sivan 5756), pp. 131-142
(also in Daf Kesher, vol. 5).
F. Viddui: On Repentance, pp. 77-81, 84-85.
G. Prayer (Shemoneh Esrei): ibid., pp. 81-84.
H. Hallel and Pesukei De-zimra: Shiurim Le-zekher, vol. 2, pp. 17-34.
I. Avoda She-balev in general: Shiurim Le-zekher, vol. 2, pp. 1-16
(Birkot Ha-Torah); "Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah," Tradition 17:2
(Spring 1978), pp. 55-72; On Repentance, pp. 81-85.
J. You Shall Not Covet: Rav Michael Rosensweig, "Lo Tachmod," Beit
Yitzchak, 19 (5747), pp. 214-227.
K. Tzedaka: see the YHE-Halakha shiur, "Tzedaka: Positive and Negative
Mitzvot," based on a shiur by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein.
L. Shofar: B. David Schreiber, Noraot Harav, vol. 1.
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 09:10:58 EST
Subject: praying to angels
I think that we may have discussed this in past but I recently came
across an interesting thought in nefesh harav re: the directness of
our relationship with HKBH. He points out the seeming redundance of the
Rambam's 5th principle that only HKBH is to be prayed to, since we already
said in the 2nd principle that he is unique etc. The reconciliation
is that we do not pray to any intermediaries etc. and that each of us
is close to HKBH etc. This is totally consistent with R'YBS(PS once a
year I have to state that I would prefer to use YDS or JBS) approach to
tfila and our relationship with HKBH.
I've always reconciled the machnesei rachamim(in my own mind) by thinking
that they are part of HKBH "process". I'm not happy with this now and
I'm wondering if anyone can share an insight on how to reconcile this
tfila with this Rambam.
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 00:00:27 +0200
From: D & E-H Bannett <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Holding and kissing tzitzis
[An old email that fell through the cracks. My apologies to RDB. -mi]
R' Gershon Dubin asks << Where does kissing tzitzis during Baruch She'omar
Although I have over twenty sources on the developments in touching,
holding, and kissing tzitzit in k'riat sh'ma, I have nothing to offer
on barukh she'amar.
I faintly remember reading something from the AR"I, i.e., via R' Hayyim
Vital, that holding tzitzit has to do with the transition at barukh
she-amar from the world of 'asiya to the world of yetzira and tzitzit
belong to or signify in some way the world of yetzira.
Being exceedingly non-mystical, I understand absolutely nothing of
kabbalistic worlds. I leave that to someone else on the list to supply
As to R' Gershon's question, personally, I rank the tzitzit in barukh
she-amar much lower than in k'riat sh'ma. This is not only because of the
lack of a non-mystical connection between tzitzit and the b'rakha before
p'sukei d'zimra but also because I suspect it originated much later.
The Geonim opposed holding tzitzit during sh'ma'.
AFAIK, they do not mention barukh she-amar. True, this means nothing
as I am not that familiar with the words of the geonim. My feeling,
without real basis, is that it started with the AR"I. Admittedly,
there is a possibility that it appear in the Zohar or other kabbalistic
literature that were a source for the AR"I mentioned it. Mystics, here's
your chance to add your knowledge,
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 17:41:58 -0800
From: Ezriel Krumbein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: re: Nazir Daf 33b
From: "Rich, Joel"
> Anyone hear a good explanation how this ended up the only daf with no
Rabbi Hillel David mentioned that Tosefos had the all of the mishna in
one block and then all of the gemara. Based on Rabbi David's obsevation
I assume that this was the easiest way to catch up.
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 09:55:30 -0500 (EST)
From: "David Riceman [dtr]" <email@example.com>
Subject: Vas izz ...
I just skimmed the relevant tshuva in the Noda BeYhudah, and
my impression is that RYGB's summary was misleading. He cites
no opinion that a amjority in a court voting for different
reasons is not considered a majority (though he does say that
he has the impression based on the shoel's letter that the shoel was
inclined to that opinion). The author of the tshuva, incidentally, was
not RAbbi Landau but was his son (whose name, I presume was also
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 10:31:15 EST
Subject: Re: praying to angels
>: I've always reconciled the machnesei rachamim(in my own mind) by thinking
>: that they are part of HKBH "process"...
[To which MSB replied in private email, in part:]
> I find it interesting that someone who is trying to be meyasheiv an idea
> with RYBS is looking to resolve the problem of Machnisei Rachamim. AFAIK,
> the Rav didn't say it because he didn't think the problem was resolvable.
> And for him to skip a piyut really means something. (Unlike R' Chaim...)
I was asking lshitatam of those who do say it, how do they understand
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 10:34:25 EST
Subject: Rov by Bais Din, Shlichusayhu (Derech Analysis)
> Second, I can see arguing that there are three distinct concepts that
> use rov:
> - bitul birov
> - azlinan basar ruba
> - acharei rabim lahatos
> If so, one can't ask a question between the 2nd and third categories --
> they're different kinds of rov.
That's what I meant in distinguishing bet. rov in the cheftza shel B"D and
rov by the meat case which is bitul in a ta'aroves, but your explanation
is clearer. Nafka minah (which you touch on as it relates to the RAK"A) -
the din of kavua applies to bitul ta'aroves, not to acharei rabim of B"D.
(Otherwise how would you ever have a psak of rov B"D - the B"D is kavua?).
GR"Ch stencil to B.K. 27 discusses this yesod.
> he is probably referring to the Gemoro at the beginning of Sanhedrin
> about poskim now fulfilling the role of "shelichusyhu d'kama'ei
Shlichusayhu (b'pashtus) is just a din when you need smuchim, Gittin
88. Shlichusayhu is also not a real din in shlichus, but a din is serara
(a B"D of non-smuchim lack authority - I think the Ch. Ran in Sanhedrin
says this), so the whole chezkas shliach oseh shlichuso isn't relavant.
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 14:17:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Rabbeinu Tam and Metzius
Someone wrote on Areivim:
> Sof Shabbos L'Rabbeinu Tam -- some hold it like your explaination above, but
> there are others who hold it as Ikkar HaDin, NOT as a chumra.
Eli Turkel wrote:
> Any such person I suggest come on a visit to Jerusalem and look at the sky
> at the time of sof Shabbos according to Rabbenu Tam - he will see the sky is
> pitch black way before then
There are definitely metzius problems with Rabbeinu Tam's shitah. There are
also metzius problems with the Gra's shitah. I believe RYM Tukiczinsky (sp?)
wrote about these problems and proposed solutions. R. Mordechai Willig
discusses these and other solutions to the metzius problems in his Am Mordechai
on maseches berachos.
Go to top.
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