Avodah Mailing List
Volume 06 : Number 161
Tuesday, March 20 2001
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 10:04:42 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Shidduchim: Parameters for revealing information
I recently heard the following story.
A young man was informed by his kalla - a week before the chasuna that she
her family had a terrible genetic disease which had left several of her
brothers severely retarded and that the doctors said that any child she had
would have a 25% chance of being retarded. When he asked why she hadn't
revealed the information she replied that her Rav - a major talmid of Rav
Moshe - had told her not to. The rav said that since it wasn't 100% that she
would have retarded children she did not have to reveal the information. The
rational was that they needed to have bitachon that everything would work
Aside from a vaguely similar case in the Igros Moshe (E. H. III #27 page
449). Rabbi Shurkin told me that he knew of a case where the bachur had
diabetes and Rav Moshe told him not to reveal the information.
I have discussed this with a number of rabbonim and they said there seems to
be such a shitah - but they all viewed it as strange and upsetting that
someone would be advised to conceal such information. I would appreciate
hearing from anyone who has more information about this issue.
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Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 12:19:53 +1100
From: "SBA" <email@example.com>
Subject: Parshas Poroh/Poroh Adumoh/Baal Mechaber
Like many kehillos worldwide, we get a weekly Torah pamphlet called
Alim Litrufoh published by Belz in Antwerp - which really is a high
class publication. It includes short divrei Torah on the parsha from
the Rishonim/Chassidish and other sifrei kodesh, some Halocho lemaaseh
and other bits and pieces - usually very well selected.
In this weeks issue, I saw a piece from the Arugas Habosem saying that
he heard it b'shem the Yismach Moshe explaining where Parshas Poroh is
merumaz in the Torah.
He says that by the maaseh eigel it says Z'chor al Tishkach, but Chazal
didn't want to mesaken leining about it betzibur thus (mipnei shehi
genuson shel yisroel - MO (60)), so they were rather mesaken Parshas Poroh
("tovoi imoy utekanach tzoas bnoh...") and with this we are mekayem a
mitzvas asei... (They note that the Malbim writes similarly in Artzos
Which reminds me of a vort I heard some time ago.
Rashi writes on Zos Chukas Hatorah regarding the Poroh Adumoh - Lefi
shehasoton v'umos ho'olom moinin es yisroel.....ma hamitzvoh hazos umah
taam yesh bo....gzeiroh hi lefonoy - ein loch reshus leharher achreho..
But a few lines later Rashi himself brings from Reb Moshe Hadarshon a
reason for this mitzvah - the moshol about the ben shifcha and that the
PA is a kaporo on the maaseh eigel (tovoy imoh utekanach hatzoah..) -
which shows that there is quite a strong reason for the mitzvah of PA.
So why does Rashi write that we should tell the Umos Ho'olam - gzeirah
hi milfonay and not explain to them the taam behind it?
The answer is takeh in that first Rashi - "Lefi shehasoton ve'umos ho;olom
*MOININ* es Yisroel* - that is, they well know the reason behind it, they
are simply trying to hurt us by trying to get us to mention the maaseh
eigel - which they know is the reason for the PA which is a kaporo for
it - and they want to remind us (and HKBH) of this great sin, so Rashi
tells us that when they ask 'Mah hamitzvoh Hazos umah Taam yesh Boh' -
to simply reply: "gzeiro hi milfonay" - and most definitely we do not
mazkir the reason....
And me'inyan leInyan, a mussar vort - on the above Rashi. Prior to doing
a mitzva - the soton says to us" "Mah Hamitzvoh Hazos?" - what's this
mitzvoh that you are wasting your time trying to achieve? And after you
have completed it he comes with: "Umah Taam yesh Boh!!" - Wow! vos far
a taam there is in your mitzvah! - and tells you how great you are for
And for this we davven 'Vehoser Sotom milfonenu ume'achrenu' - that
before we do a mitzvah the Soton shouldn't try to talk us out of it and
afterwards (when we didn't listen to him) he should also stay away from
us and not try to make us proud and haughty that we have been mekayem
Another interesting line in this weeks (abovementioned) AL. From the
Mevoy to Sefer Ho"eshkol: "Hamechabrim...mechanim atzmom beshem "Baal
Hamechaber"... Baal Hamechaber einenoy hamechaber, k'moy baal hashor
einoy hashor ubaal habor einenoy habor...
Ayin Shom. Very interesting
(R' Seth - bist maskim??).
Shomo B Abeles
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 09:46:43 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Rav Moshe Feinstein story
>> Reb Moshe, however, saw through her story. Halacha was a life
>> force to him. A rav who had made a p'sak would never be permitted
>> to make a mistake. It just could not be.
Aside from the fact that Rav Moshe did not claim infallability for himself
or any other rav in the Igros and in fact acknowledged the fact that he
could err, I just asked Rav Michel Shurkin about the above story.
He replied [partially censored] that he had never heard of such a story nor
had he ever heard that Rav Moshe claimed that he was infallible. "What do
you do with mesechta Horios?"
The story - even if true - can be readily understood to mean something other
than a claim for infallability but simply pressure that Rav Moshe wanted to
apply to get that woman to confess.
> ....suggestion of the Maharsham based on a Tosphos in
> Gittin 33a (d"h v'afkinhu) to save the children from mamzerut and permit
> her to remain married to her second husband.
Again aside from the question of what really happened since we are dealing
with aid mepi aid etc. The question is of the validity of publishing that a
recognized gadol utilized a very controversial procedure - a fact which he
obviously did not want known?
Of more relevance to our discussion group is the observation of Rabbi
Rabbi Bleich (Contemporary Halachic Problems volume I pp 162-167) has an
extensive discussion of the controversy surrounding this procedure -
including a summary of the emphatic rejections of this procedure by Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and others. More to the point, Rabbi Bleich notes
(page 165) that it was claimed that another well known gadol supposedly used
He cautions the reader, "However, Rabbi Herzog's ruling in the specific case
brought to his attention was based on different grounds. As is often the
case in halakhic responsa, considerations which are themselves insufficient
to warrant the conclusion advanced are adduced as a snif, or secondary line
of reasoning, in order to strengthen the ultimate decision. Rabbi Auerbach
reports that the dayanim in Israel have on numerous occassions refrained
from following Maharsham's suggestion precisely because the latter stated
explicity that his words were not intended for practical implementation...."
Does the original source claim that the Mahrasham's procedure was *the*
basis for the psak?
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 08:54:27 -0000
From: "Seth Mandel" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: A freilikhen yontev and jelly homentashen
[About the conversation on Areivim on "freilechen Purim", vs "freilicher
The larger point I wish to make on this occasion is that all languages
have grammar, with very specific rules. Even those derogatorily called a
"Mischsprach" or "jargon" are real languages, and EVERY language in the
world follows strict grammatical rules. "Jargon" is used derogatorily to
refer to things like English, Yiddish, Creole, pidgin English, and Ebola
(black inner-city English) depending on the speaker's own sociological
But all of these, linguistically, are separate languages/dialects, each
with its own specific grammar. There is NO language in the world where
you can just use word forms interchangeably. In Ebola, the correct
form in most situations "I be good," not "I am good." If you don't like
Ebola speakers, you will condemn this as "incorrect"; if you don't like
Yiddish speakers, you will condemn the use of "dem" vs. "den" in certain
situations as "incorrect." Sociological judgments, not linguistic.
The interesting thing about linguistics is that there are these
"metarules" that affect every single language spoken around the world
(or that was spoken for which we have adequate historical records). The
only conclusion is that "grammar," i.e. changing forms of words
according to syntax, the use in the sentence, seems to be hard-wired
in peoples minds. The corollary is that even a retarded person, even
with a significantly below-average intelligence, will use grammar
correctly. He won't use complicated words, but he also will not (except
in the most extreme forms of mental damage) say things like "he are
hungry," despite the fact that he cannot be taught ideas like "subject,"
"object," etc. Virtually the only explanation is that language ability
is hard-wired in humans by the Creator. The rishonim, of course, knew
this, and so referred to humans as "ham'dabber," as opposed to "hay"
or "tzomeah." This doesn't mean that you may not be able to teach some
animals (chimpanzees, for example) some sort of sign-language, but it
does mean that every human speaks and uses grammar, whereas animals must
be trained, and even then arguably do not use grammar.
What does this have to do with Areivim/Avodah (I do realize that
this is not a liguistic forum, contrary to what people might think)? A
lot. The rules of halokho, the rules of the Torah, structurally have many
similarities to linguistic rules: there are general rules, subcategories,
and exceptions. The rules are mandatory, not optional. The resulting
system gets quite complex. Just consider: the Creator hard-wired the
ability to learn such a system in people. Most goyim and assimilated Jews
nowadays do not want to hear from "rules"; the only thing is "what makes
me feel good" in the current ascendency of hedonism. But people don't
realize that the affinity for rules is born in them, by the Divine plan,
and they testify to the rule of rules every time they open their mouths,
even if they speak Espaņol or Ebola. To extend the idea to where I want
to go: the ability to learn the rules of the Torah, whether sheva mitzvos
B'nei Noah or all 613, is inborn in all people. A more intelligent person
may be able to understand the more complicated rules, in less time, and
with a deeper understanding, but there is no Jew -- nor even no goy --
who cannot learn the rules; the Creator has seen to it that the ability
is hard-wired in him. Even Down-syndrom children can learn basic halokhos
of Shabbos, or even tum'ah and taharo, if that's what they were taught.
Is this not a galuy proof or at least remez of the idea that "nistakkal
b'orayso uvoro 'olmo," that HQB'H in His ineffable wisdom created the
whole rule in accordance with the Torah, and gave all men, great or
small, the ability to follow the path of the Torah? The ways of HQB'H
are hidden from man, and not in accordance with the way man, in his
understanding, would arrange things; "lo mahsh'voteikhem mahsh'votai,"
"efoh hayita b'yosdi oretz." No man would ever have come up with an
idea like hard-wiring the ability to learn and follow a complex rule
system like language in a species that he created. Too inefficient for
the tasks at hand, too much extra code. What could the Divine Creator
have been thinking?
Torah, of course. The only Truth of the Universe for us. The way man,
in his limitations, can relate to the Ineffable, Unknowable One who is
the Existance of the World.
You see where the study of languages can lead? Dangerous stuff.
(And it fits in so nicely with the Rambam's view that learning Hebrew
grammar is a mitzva of the Torah, as he says definitively in Perush
haMishnayos. The rules of Hebrew and the Masorah are part and parcel
of the Torah. Of couse, just like everyone does not have to spend his
time learning hilkhos Tum'a and Taharo, not everyone has to spend his
time learning the rules of Hebrew and the Masorah; that is not what
> Lest you scoffers think that this is just a matter like jelly doughnuts
> on Hanukka, a maakhol hataluy b'sa'aro, let me note that this is brought
> in the SA! Siman 695, in the R'Mo'! An iqqar halokho of Purim!!!
> Isn't there an "inyan" about the fact that a homentashen is filled with
> seeds? Something about Esther living off seeds so as to avoid kashrus
> issues while in Achashveirosh's palace?
That, R. Micha, was precisely what I was referring to. The idea that one
should eat seeds is paskened by the R'Mo' in Siman 695, and brought by the
Beis Yosef in the name of the Orhot Hayyim of the 14th century (not even an
Ashk'nazi). The idea is specifically brought about what Daniel and his
fellows ate in the royal household, but, as the aharonim bring, and the MB
quotes in their name, also applies to what Esther ate in the royal
household. My point was that this idea is brought by the R'Mo' in SA, and
so is more than a minhag like eating potato kugel on shabbos. And yet even
those who are maqpid that shabbos meals start off with fish and soup are
m'zalzel in a much older and much more rooted idea in minhog/halokho, that
on Purim we eat montashen/homentaschen, made out of mon, not apricot jelly.
This, of course, is not a deep idea like the idea about languages I advanced
above, but is more than enough grist for the CQ mill! And for the current
mind set among many Jews, that we must pasken in all matters of halokho like
the MB, it is one of the many oddities. I have often said that the RW world
paskens always according to the MB -- as long as it is their minhog or a
minhog they learned about in yeshiva. Other things the MB says are
conveniently ignored, even things such as a brokho on a tallis of the
tzibbur which are not just citations from other Aharonim, like most of the
MB, but things the CC himself put in because he felt strongly about.
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 10:21:09 -0500
From: Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Kapparah
On Thu, Mar 15, 2001 at 09:51:49PM -0500, Kenneth G Miller wrote:
: Can anyone suggest some source material where I can learn about the
: concept of "kapparah"?
Not really, beyond that which was already offered. But I'm going to use
the opportunity to share my own 2 cents on the subject.
The pasuk "ki bayom hazeh yechapeir aleichem litaher eschem mikol
chatoseichim, lifnei Heshem tit-haru" links kapparah to taharah.
The word, when used in the physical sense, refers to covering something,
such as the kapores. The next word in the pasuk, "aleichem", also implies
that kind of idea.
We also find the word used to mean a bribe, "kofeir nafsho". Which would
seem to indicate something that mitigates punishment without addressing
I am reluctant to attribute such ideas to HKBH. For the very same reason
that such an image of /k-f-r/ is considered bribary.
As you may have picked up from last week's posts on tzadik vira lo,
I have little room in my theology for anything but "gam zu litovah". In
which case, without the person himself changing, how can what he recieves
change? Where is the tziduk hadin in that?
Admittedly, this gives me problems with some mainstream concepts such
as segulos. It also is the origin of my questions about whether mezuzos
protect, or the mitzvah of mezuzah protects, and from there -- whether
one needs a kosher mezuzah or a mezuzah with a chezkas kashrus in order
to recieve such protection. But back to the issue at hand...
I therefore feel more comfortable saying that Y"K plus kavanah or Y"K plus
lishmah can cause kapparah. IOW, Y"K's impact on the self, not Y"K itself.
Adding to the complexity of the problem is a machlokes between the Gra and
RSRH about whether "selach lanu, mechal lanu, kaper lanu" is in ascending
or descending order. Whether in describing kapparah we should be looking
for a concept that is more pardoning than mechilah or selichah or less.
In order to answer what kapparah is, IOW, what is being covered within
the individual, I had to detour into what taharah is. Taharah also has
a physical meaning, the "zahav tahor" of this month's partshios refers
to pure gold. I would therefore surmize that kapparah is the enclosure
or containment of that which would otherwise adulterate the whatever it
is that we want to be tahor.
If that last sentence didn't make sense, it's because I left two open
questions: Taharah is the purity of X from otherwise being adulterated
with Y. I didn't say what I think X and Y are yet.
Taharah as a middah is defined by the Ramchal in Mesilas Yesharim 16.
Taharah is the correction of the heart and thoughts... Its
essence is that man shouldn't leave room for the inclination in his
actions. Rather all his actions should be on the side of wisdom and
awe [for the Almighty], and not on the side of sin and desire. This
is even in those things which are of the body and physical.
To the Ramchal, taharah is purity of the "heart and thoughts". The tahor
man has "no room for the physical." It is the purity of the deciding
mind from the physical creature.
RSRH gives a similar p'shat for tum'ah in Vayikra 11:47:
A dead human body tends to bring home to one's mind a fact which is able
to give support to that pernicious misconception which is called tum'ah.
For, in fact, there lies before us actual evidence that Man must --
willy-nilly -- submit to the power of physical forces. That in this corpse
that lies before us, it is not the real human being, that the real human
being, the actual Man, which the powers of physical force can not touch,
had departed from here before the body -- merely its earthly envelope --
could fall under the withering law of earthly Nature; more, that as long
as the real Man, with his free-willed self-determining G-dly nature was
present in the body, the body itself was freed from forced obedience
to the purely physical demands, and was elevated into the sphere of
moral freedom in all its powers of action and also of enjoyment, when
the free-willed ruling of the higher part of Man decided to achieve the
moral mission of his life;...
Again, note that tum'ah robs oneself of bechirah by being convinced --
adulterating bechirah, if you will -- of the idea that man is merely a
subject, not an object. In the terms I recently attributed to the Gra's
Peirush al Kama Agados -- purity of the ru'ach from the nefesh.
The notion of subject vs object and its relationship to cheit's power to
be metamei is also discussed by RYBS in a 1974 teshuvah derashah. See our
chaveir's R' Dr Arnold Lustiger's, "Before Hashem You Shall be Purified",
Ohr Publishing, 1998.
RYBS starts with R"H 29a, where R' Nachman says that a chatzi eved chatzi
ben chorin can not be yotzei hearing teki'as shofar from his own blowing.
Unlike other mitzvos, where he can be motzi himself -- e.g. he can daven
for himself, and need not rely on a fully Jewish sha"tz.
RYBS explains that blowing shofar is different because the mitzvah
is not in the blowing, but in the hearing. The berachah reads "...who
commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar." Inherent in the mitzvah
is two kinds of individuals, the tokei'ah (the blower) and the shomei'ah
(the listener), the nosei (mover) and the nisa (moved). An active subject
and a passive object.
It's not halachah that splits the individual in this way, it's sin. Sin
splits the personality into tamei and tahor components. The call of
the shofar is the nosei awakening the nisa, calling across that chasm
created by sin to restore unity, to bring us closer to the image of the
Singular Nosei in Whose "Image" we were created.
The message of the shofar is that all is not lost. That no matter how
much ruach one is mitamei, the core remains. Teshuvah is always possible.
If taharah is purity from the idea that man is merely gashmi, an object
that is "forced [into] obedience to the purely physical demands", than
kaparah is the containment of that idea. Through kaparah one cordons off
the animal within oneself, but did not yet address the damage to one's
decision making due to hergel.
Again, returning to the Gra's terminology -- containment of the nefesh,
putting a "lid" (kapores) between it and the ru'ach.
Micha Berger When you come to a place of darkness,
email@example.com 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: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 08:45:33 -0500
From: "Stein, Aryeh E." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Tartei D'Asrei
> I would be interested in knowing the reason. My understanding is that
> it says in halacha that it is best for one to daaven maariv after tseis
> but that most poskim hold just the opposite the erev Shabbos- that b/c
> of the greatness of tosfos Shabbos it is praiseworthy to daven maariv
> and make kiddush early on Friday night.
Actually, according to the lashon in the HS (p. 175), RSZA didn't like the
fact that, in_Eretz_Yisroel, early minyanim had started to pop up, since the
minhag Eretz Yisroel has been to daven b'zman, and it wasn't good that in
one place, it should be shabbos for some jews and chol for other jews.
(IOW, it wasn't so much that RSZA was against davening early on erev shabbos
as it was that he desired uniformity. (Ayin sham for a few more details.)
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 12:12:27 EST
Subject: tizku limitzvos vs. thank you vs. yiyasheir kochacha
When people give thanks verbally, what is the best way to do so?
I have noticed a shift in recent years. The expression 'tizku limitzvos' has
become more and more popular. Youngsters collecting money for a Yeshiva, for
example, often tell you now (presumably they are so taught by their Rabbis in
Yeshiva and / or those leading the tzedakkah campaigns) after receiving a
contribution, 'tizku limitzvos' - instead of thank you (which they may have
said in past years)(or similar Yiddish expressions of 'a dank' / 'a sheinem
dank' / 'a hartzigen dank', todah / todah rabbah in Hebrew / loshon kodesh)
or yeyasher kochacha. Someone gave a donation to a minyan and was told 'tizku
limitzvos' but not 'thank you'. He felt that this was not adequate.
It seems that thank you and similar expressions may be better expressions of
hakoras hatov - while tizku limitzvos and yeyasher kochacha are essentially
blessings (though thanks may be implied, as presumably one gives a blessing
out of gratitude - but gratitude is not explicitly stated). Even though we
are taught 'al tihi birchas hedyot kala bieinecha', nevertheless, should we
be teaching people to give blessings instead of saying thank you? Should we
be teaching our children to say thank you or become brocho dispensers? I have
my doubts.....Seemingly hakoras hatov is most important - more than giving
Presumably saying thank you AND tizku limitzvos would solve all problems -
but it seems that most times one just hears the latter.
Another question - where does the expression 'tizku limitzvos' come from?
Yiyasheir kochacha / kochachem OTOH has an ancient history. Chazal say that
Hashem said to Moshe yiyasheir kochacha (sheshibarta)(Yiyasheir kochacha =
your strength [aim?] should be straightened [strengthened]). Hashem didn't
say to Moshe 'tizku limitzvos'! What does tizku limitzvos mean anyway? One
can ask, if one wants to do mitzvos he can just do them - what is the need
for a brocho? Although people will say that it means that he should be zoche
to have (more?) opportunities to do mitzvos, I still have doubts about it,
because essentially we are taught 'biderech sheodom rotza leileich, boh
molichin oso' and 'mitzvoh goreres mitzvoh' - so I don't know really that
someone needs more than his own bechira to do mitzvos (on the basic level).
Also, perhaps we can be michaleik between what to say after receiving a
personal favor and after receiving a contribution to tzidakkah?
To sum up, I am 1) questioning the omission of thank you in favor of 'tizku
limitzvos', 2) saying that it seems that yiyasheir kochacha seems to be have
an edge over 'tizku limitzvos' because a) HKB"H said it and b) it has ancient
roots and 3) questioning the roots and meaning of 'tizku limitzvos'.
I would be pleased to get some constructive, cool feedback.
TIA (Thanks in advance) and yiyasheir kochachem!
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 14:34:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <email@example.com>
Subject: Rav Moshe Feinstein story
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Yosef Blau
> The story reported in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein has a parallel
> with a radically different conclusion told about Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank.
> Rav Frank utilized a suggestion of the Maharsham based on a Tosphos in
> Gittin 33a (d"h v'afkinhu) to save the children from mamzerut and permit
> her to remain married to her second husband.
Funny you should metion it.
RYGB, please correct me if I made any mistakes here.
We discussed that very same Maharsham in our Daf Yomi. Wasn't this what
R. Goren based his psak on in the Langer case? And did not R. Goren's
reputuation suffer subsequently? IIRC, the Sugya relates that according
to the Shita in the Gemmarrah that holds that the power of Beis Din
is so great that they can uproot the oriiginal Kidushin because of the
principle of Kol DiMikadesh, ADatah D'Rabbon Hoo D'Mikadesh. Tosfos says
that utilizing this Shitah, if Eidim come and testify that a married
woman has committeed adultry, a husband can send a Get via a Shaliach
and then cancel the Get while it is in transit SheLo B'fnei HaShaliach
and the woman will never have been married, thus elimnating the problem
of Mamzerus from any subsequent children.
The Maharsham uses this scenario as a possible method of elimnating
Mamzerus in cases where a married woman commits adultry and the husband
is willing to send her a Get. Since the Gemmarah states that the rule
in this scenario we should be able to utruilze this very same scenario
to eliminate at least this possible form of Mamzerus.
Rabbi Goren used this Maharsham in the Langer case.
For those of you not farmiliar with the case, it invoved a woman who
had no proof but believed that her husband had died (in the holocaust,
I beleive) then remarried and had children. Her first husband then
appeared making the children mamzerim. IIRC, R. Goren got the first
husband to send her a get and then cancel it whereby Afkinu kicked in
and was M'vatel her first marraige. (He combined this with the fact that
the first husband was a Ger and questioned it's legitimacy, but there
was no evidence of any illegitimacy in the Geirus)
The problem with the Maharsham's Eitza and R. Goren utilization of
it, is that he used L'Chatchila, a B'dieved solution which is how the
Gemmarah clearly used it... . The Gemmarah clearly used Afkinu B'Dieved
leaving open the question as to whether we are allowed to pull off such
a Ruse L'chatchila.
For this, R. Goren was roundly critisized. And then he became Cheif Rabbi.
The fact that R. Zvi Pesach Frank utilized this Maharsham without any
critism is perplexing.
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